France

Let me tell you, you can learn a lot from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In its latest social indicators survey, Society at a Glance 2009, the Paris-based OECD discloses that French people spend longer asleep than any other nation that belongs to this elite club of the world’s advanced economies. To be precise, an average French person sleeps for eight hours and 50 minutes every day, a good hour or so more than the average Korean or Japanese. Read more

The European Union is truly a weird and wonderful thing. Take the question of enlargement into the western Balkans (an area once known as Yugoslavia and Albania).

As is well-known, France, Germany and other western European countries have been reluctant to move the enlargement process forward as long as the EU’s Lisbon reform treaty remains blocked. Among their concerns is the fear that their electorates will not take kindly to the prospect of yet more eastern Europeans piling into the EU at a time of extraordinary economic crisis. Read more

The bad feeling between France and the Czech Republic is finally out there for everyone to see. For anyone who likes their European Union united, it is not a pretty sight.

Suspicion was in the air even before the Czechs took over the EU’s rotating presidency from France on January 1. The French doubted that the Czechs would be up to the job. The Czechs sensed that President Nicolas Sarkozy wanted to stay in the spotlight even after the end of France’s six-month EU presidency. “Old Europe” was in the red corner, “new Europe” was in the blue, and Round One was about to start. Read more