The EU needs to get France under control (closing of airspace)

Another general strike in France. What’s new? As usual, French air traffic controllers have also gone on strike, causing absolute chaos, as French air space is mostly shut down (with the looming threat of it being shut down altogether at any moment). Already hundreds of flights have been cancelled or delayed across Europe, with more surely to follow this week. This is the fifth major airspace disruption in France this year.

This is completely ridiculous. Anybody flying east to west or north to south within the EU almost certainly has to cross French airspace at some point. The whole of the EU is held to ransom by idle French protesting a state retirement age raise that still sees them years behind the EU average. Untold chaos is caused and millions of pounds lost in revenue by yet another French ATC strike (though French farmers and truckers blocking Calais, and by extension, all British haulage’s direct access to the continent are almost as bad). What will be the EU’s response? Sanctions? Laws passed preventing vital services like ATC from striking? Hardly.


  1. There should be severe penalties levied by the EU on France for every day their airspace is shut down due to industrial action, and,

  2. Air traffic controllers in the EU, like police, should not have the right to strike.

I have fond memories of Ronald Reagan.

  1. The unions and protestors would almost certainly want this. They are trying to bring the country to a standstill. Extra external pressure on the government would be a good thing.

  2. Public opinion is behind this action at the moment. The French view industrial action differently than most other western countries. I doubt it would happen.

Erm… The EU is not a country. As a European, if France wants to fuck up their shit, they’re welcome to do it.

Precisely. And I would add, if the EU threatened in any way, shape or form to infringe on its members’ sovereignty or actively interfered in their national affairs, it would immediately collapse. Not a single member would tolerate it.

Besides that, OP, allow me to roll my eyes at you. Your flight got delayed ? Bummer.
Thanks to the general strike, I may not get any food to eat in a couple days, and every French citizen living in a big city along with me. Many people can’t go to work, because they’ve got no gas to commute or do their job. My sis and BIL already can’t do their vet rounds. Cops, firemen and EMTs still have some fuel… yet. In a week ? Or if the strike gets any worse ? Who knows. We certainly don’t, because government and cops are actively preventing journalists from getting a real picture of how bad things are (purportedly in order to not embolden the strikers - like they need a TV crew to tell them they’ve got the country by the short and curlies…).

That’s chaos in the making. Actual chaos, not just a marginal dent in a profit curve and people getting mildly inconvenienced. The whole country is proper fucked right now (for a whole slew of reasons besides the retirement debate BTW, which merely sparked the last drop to break the camel’s back) and the very *last *thing we need would be some external interference to muck things up worse, thankyouverymuch. Y’all just fly around and ship your stuff to Amsterdam or Hamburg, why dontcha ?

Wow - I had no idea things were that bad. Have people started setting up barricades yet?

Depends what you mean by that. We’re not yet at MiserablesCon 1, not even at May '68 levels of civil unrest but we’re definitely living in interesting times. It doesn’t feel like your run-of-the-mill French strike fuckery to me, at least. People have begun stockpiling the essentials, just in case. And if the government keeps on its current course of “let’s just don’t give a fuck, send the cops and say everything’s fine on TV” for much longer, I do believe events could spiral into one of those Big Things that get their own moniker in the history books.

As for actual barricades, well, the students have come down hard in support of the blue collars, staged big demonstrations all over and yeah, there’s been some police baton on smart skull action, barricades being set up and torn down, “professional” rioters coming in to wreck shit up and set fires for the lulz, the works. No expenses spared on this one, really. Nothing *really *organized just yet, though.

Is it sustainable? I mean, this strikes me as something thats going to change France. In the end they are simply staving off the inevitable, aren’t they? Whats a win situation for the protesters?

Yeah, but that’s your problem. The Frenchman’s over-active sense of entitlement shouldn’t be allowed to disrupt the business of the rest of the EU, since they have nothing to do with it.

Personally I think there should be some sort of emergency plan for keeping French airspace open with non-native or external traffic control. Since all flights to/from French airports would still be stopped there’d be a lot less traffic to worry about to begin with.

Well, no. By definition, no strike is sustainable. Everyone’s gotta eat and get paid, eventually.
The only question is : can they hunker down longer than the rest of the country can bear to live without half of the basic necessities, and thus longer than the government can afford to stonewall them ? I believe they can - or, more accurately, I believe they believe they can. And according to the polls, the overwhelming majority of the country wishes they would, even if they’re hurting us in the process.

As for what would constitute a win, and a more in depth analysis and strategery of the situation, you’d have to ask someone alltogether more informed and politically aware than I am, I’m afraid.

The EU tries to do this all the time. Just today the Equal Rights Commissioner Viviane Reding (which admittedly is an obnoxious twat) threatened to enact gender quotas in Danish banks unless the banks immediately start to hire more female bank CEOs.

We don’t want the EU putting its nose in internal French business either. If the hassle gets bad enough, airlines will just start to redirect their flights to avoid French airspace and more of the air traffic controllers will lose their jobs. Alternatively the French government could fire the lot of them and outsource the job to Polish workers.

And I don’t care about your problem, 'cause I got delayed a whole whopping hour. Or even two. That’s just soooo much more serious. :rolleyes:

Sovereign nation, remember ? You fly through our space by our leave, as we fly through yours by yours. I don’t want to sound like more of a dick than I really am, and I’m really the least patriotic person you’ll ever meet, but on paper and as it stands, EU or no EU, foreign nations have zero entitlement to French airspace or the use thereof that I know of. As I said, if French ATC people prove to be such a major pain in the nethers (as I’m sure they are), the “proper” way for other EU countries and airlines to handle the problem is to fly around France and not involve them in the process anymore.

But telling France to cut the shit and let foreign powers/institutions control their air for them when and as they feel like is never going to fly (eh) - nor would it fly in any country that I know of.

Well thats what I am saying. This is about retired people being able to continue to eat.

The strikes dont fix that; they apparently make it more immediate. And it doesnt fix it in the long term either. You cannot protest the coffers back to full. Strikes do not generate magic pension funds.

So from my arm chair, it seems a very odd position for the French public to take.

From what I can see a win would be a fatal destabilisation of the present government. This isn’t just about the retirement age it about the cuts that are in place / planned by the current government. The left would like to get into power and have said they would reverse some of the planned cuts.

I don’t imagine that the strikers suppose that you can “protest the coffers back to full” or that strikes can “generate magic pension funds”.

You should consider the possibility that the strikes have other objectives, such as to protest against the incompetence (or worse) of the political and financial establishment which presided over this shambles, so hastening its removal, or to protest over the measures adopted in response to the crisis, so leading to the adoption of different measures to address it.

I’m not saying it’s less serious, I’m just saying it’s not my problem. You, by living in the country, are involved and to some degree responsible for the actions of the governement. I am not, yet still suffer the consequences.

And it’s not just inconvienience. French strikes cost airlines and trucking firms (in the UK especially) to lose a lot of money. People’s jobs are at stake because of the beligerant actions of over-entitled Frenchmen complaining that they’ll have to retire 3 years (soon to be 5!) before I do. Excuse me for not being more sympathetic to their fight for an even more luxurious gravy-train.

That’s a good point and I wouldn’t support violating soveregnty in that way (without prior European treaties anyway). On the other hand, the strikers are not the government. I see no reason why the government couldn’t temporarily grant the control of French airspace to an external agency.

If you want to use French airspace or travel in France then it is your problem. You will be inconvienenced and hopefully, from the strikers POV, add to the pressure on the government.

Actions of this nature are meant to piss people off and cost money. I’m sure the French also couldn’t give too much of a shite about you and how you have accepted (from their POV) a lot which is worse than theirs. They have a culture of industrial action right across all levels of the state. The public in general support (to some degree or another) strikes as they know that at some stage they are most likely going to be looking for support for their actions.

It’s a french thing and fair play to them. I wish people in Ireland could focus their anger like that.

Well in England we used to have a culture of striking, but it caused severe disruption for little apparent gain, and we got sick of it.

Somehow the french are not there yet, and I can’t help feeling it’s because they still see the image of a yob in a balaclava, kicking a shop window in, as heroic.

Finally, I notice that the meme is being repeated here that these changes are due to the banking crisis. The banking crisis may have hastened some of the changes, but successive french leaders have tried, against an unwilling public, to rein in public spending and make the labour force more competitive.
The big picture with Europe is that we have an ageing population and our generous social security is making us increasingly uncompetitive next to the US and the BRIC. All of Europe needs to get to grips with this.

Oh, they don’t only kick shop windows, they also kick innocent passers-by. And to add to that, the looting of shops, the rape threats if shopkeeper is female…

For the record, I don’t find anything heroic to those demonstrations at all. France is a shithole stuck in a neverending teenage crisis since 1968. Public opinion may be in favor of the strike, but wait a few days, when supermarkets will have less and less food.

Fortunately, I’m lucky enough to live near two developed countries, Luxembourg and Germany.