Greater Geneva: what is the French response to high living costs and real estate pressures?October 2023
Switzerland employs over 180,000 French cross-border commuters. Salaries are among the highest in Europe. This high level of attractiveness is having a major impact on the French side of the border, in areas such as Pays de Gex in Ain and Annemasse in Haute-Savoie, where salaries cannot keep up: high living costs, strong pressure on property prices, job vacancies in the public sector, etc. The consequences - which are not new - are numerous and complicated to resolve.
An article in Le Monde entitled "Dans le pays de Gex, la pénurie d'enseignants aggravée par la vie chère et la concurrence de la Suisse" (In the Pays de Gex, a teacher shortage exacerbated by the high cost of living and competition from Switzerland), published on September 13th, highlighted this phenomenon: "The school complex at Ferney-Voltaire, in the Ain department, is unable to recruit [teachers] due to a lack of affordable housing. Gaps in schedules are multiplying, affecting several hundred pupils".
In Annemasse, a round-table discussion on the subject of accessibility in border areas was organized by Le Dauphiné Libéré, the Haute-Savoie Department and the Metropolitan Pole of the French Genevois, on September 27th. For Christian Dupessey*: "The right to housing is clearly menaced. Since 2022, the continuous rise in interest rates imposed by central banks and applied by banks means that they are no longer lending. In our region, with a combined income of €8,000 for a couple, there is no more lending. This is an inacceptable roadblock! This right to housing, which is a genuine fundamental right, is being undermined for both low-income and middle classes. They're victims of a double penalty: they can't buy, but sometimes they can't even rent."
The creation of a residence allowance for civil servants
On the subject, Stanislas Guerini, French Minister for the Civil Service and Transformation, announced on September 28th, during a visit to Haute-Savoie, "the granting of a residence allowance at a rate of 3% of the fixed salary for civil servants working in one of the 62 communes in the Ain and Haute-Savoie departments directly impacted by real estate pressures linked to its direct proximity to the Geneva basin. This financial assistance responds to a strong demand from local elected representatives and trade union organizations, and to the recommendations of several public reports on the attractiveness of civil service in this region."
This is good news, but the question is: will it be enough?
Other measures are also needed, particularly in terms of access to housing linked to public employment.
More info [FR]
* Mayor of Annemasse, President of Metropolitan Pole of the French Genevois, President of the MOT.
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