France has begun counting the cost of more than two weeks of violence that haswreaked havoc in the country’s poorest suburbs and housing estates.
With several thousand cars torched and dozens of buildings damaged or destroyed the bill is likely to run up into the hundreds of millions of euros. Major cities and towns right across the country have been affected, and insurance companies are totting up the total. Their first estimates are that the damages will reach about 200 million euros, 20 million of that for burnt out cars alone. But it is not only insurance companies that are going to have to fork out, the state is going to have to pay its share too. The European Union will be coming to France’s aid in the form of a programme that is already helping nine towns and cities across the country. Danuta Hubner, who is Commissioner for regional policy, explained more about the programme: “In France we are presented with a special initiative which is the urban inititative, four of them are in the Paris region, and five in major cities where we had indeed violence. We can forget bureacracy and use procedures which will facilitate fast reshuffling of funds.” Under an existing scheme called Urban II, 103 million euros have been allocated to France and its troubled suburbs. Only half has been spent so far, so what is left could be used to help the areas most affected by the violence and that money is most likely to be spent on repairs. The funds had been due to help revatilise rundown areas both socially and economically. With youth unemployment running as high as 60 percent in some suburbs that is still a problem that needs to be urgently dealt with.