French naval contractor DCNS's new $40 billion submarine contract with Australia provides a welcome boost for France's economy, and its president. As David Pollard reports, they both need it.
For what its fans call a high-tech, high-speed economy, France's famous high-speed trains aren't moving very fast at all. Many commuter lines at a standstill too - in a new strike over contracts. (SOUNDBITE) (French) PASSENGER FROM CHAMPAGNE-SUR-SEINE, CYRIANE BOSCHER, SAYING: "We've started to get a bit tired of it now with the repeated strikes. And we don't really know what their motivations are, we don't know why they're striking today." But unions say train drivers' welfare needs to be protected - and, with it, passenger safety and security. While this (NEW SUB) is all about Australia's security. French firm DCNS will provide technology for 12 new submarines for the Australian navy. Seeing off rival bids from Japan and Germany for a 40 billion dollar contract - no child's play. (SOUNDBITE) (French) DCNS CEO, HERVE GUILLOU, SAYING: "We estimate that to handle the design process, the technology transfer, the supply chain, 4,000 people in France will be involved in the project in some way." And welcome news for a French president many see as un-reelectable next year. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT, FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, SAYING: "I'm proud, because it's French know-how, the French workforce, the ability for invention, for research that's been recognised, acknowledged, and chosen." In the meantime, one in ten of the French workforce are still out of work. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FXPRO, HEAD OF RESEARCH, SIMON SMITH, SAYING: "We've seen the unemployment rate rising over the last couple of years, structural reforms are still lagging behind. So something like this is not going to change everything in the French labour market, for sure, but certainly it's going to be a much-needed boost." Hope then for France in a defence industry apparently going places - even as commuters struggle to.