Macron prepares to flog French airports to controversial construction giants2 min read

French President Emmanuel Marcon has just passed a law to privatise Aéroports de Paris (Adp), marking the beginning of a huge sale of France’s public assets.

AdP is worth a huge €16 billion and operates Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, one of the largest and busiest in the world.

The French state owns 50.6 per cent of AdP and it has been suggested that Macron will look to sell it all. It remains to be seen whether he will get the €16 billion price tag.

It’s almost certain that AdP is just the first in a huge wave of privatisation under the French president, who according to Alastair Campbell, is the “real heir to Tony Blair”.

Orly airport is already being sold off and it has been suggested that the government is looking to sell its 60% stake in both Nice and Lyon airports.

Construction cartel moves in for a bargain

French construction giant Vinci, which already holds 8% of Aéroports de Paris, is seen as one of the front runners in the race to snap up this huge public asset.

Vinci, like many huge construction firms both in the UK and abroad, has a track record of corruption and scandal.

Many people in the UK will be familiar with the Calais Jungle refugee camp – Vinci was the company who demolished the camp, drove the refugees out, and built a massive wall to keep them out. The UK government paid them a cool £2.3 million for the pleasure.

At home, it was one of the major construction cartels who blacklisted trade unionists and other employees.

It stands accused of using slave labour in Qatar and is allegedly deeply involved in corruption in Russia, involving the massive environmental destruction of the Khimki Forest.

Over half of its profits come from being given generous “concessions” (in other words, being grossly overpaid) by the French government in exchange for running the French motorway system. For every four euros spent on a French toll road, Vinci receives one, directly into its profits.

The French firm is primarily owned by international investment funds, notably US hedge fund BlackRock (who pay George Osborne £600,000 a year as an advisor) and the Qatari dictatorship.

Macron’s approval ratings hit record low

Privatisation – or in plain English, when a government sells public services to private investors – is a key pillar of the liberal politics and economics Macron practices. In that sense, despite all the polished communications and swanky public relations, he actually represents more of the same tired old policies that are being rejected around the Western world.

French people are typically more politically outspoken than their British counterparts, particularly around issues of class. This may explain why the French still enjoy better public services and more protections for workers than here in the UK – and why thousands of French workers and students are currently on strike protecting those freedoms.

As a result, Macron has taken another hit in the polls. When will these (one per)centrists learn?

Rich Dawson is the Lead Editor of indx media. He writes on range of topics from politics, economics and culture; to music and sport.