The French Government Continues to Fail Asbestos Victims
Criticism of the French government’s approach to asbestos issues voiced by a member of ANDEVA, the French National Association For The Defence of Victims of Asbestos, in June, 2001 (see EAS Report: France) has been repeated by the French Court of Auditors. In a preliminary report, published on September 22, 2001, the auditors expressed concern over the lack of progress made by sections of the Department of Social Security, The Occupational Health Insurance Fund and Ministry of Employment in addressing matters such as compensation for the victims of asbestos diseases. The auditors also condemned the government for not taking steps to protect the general public and workers from the health risks of exposure to asbestos. Proposed legislation to prevent asbestos use, manage asbestos in-situ and impose the need for asbestos surveys has been blocked for the last two years. The auditors’ report speculates that "pressure exercised by industrial groups" is the reason that French action has been "less determined" and "slower" than that of its European neighbours.
In her presentation to the European Asbestos Seminar on June 7, 2001, Dr Annie Thebaud-Mony said that doctors responsible for issuing certificates attesting to asbestos-related diseases could be very conservative. This leads to difficulties in obtaining the medical confirmation of asbestos diagnoses required for claiming government compensation payments. Confirming the difficulties experienced by asbestos victims, the auditors admitted that the Asbestos Compensation Fund, set up last year, is still not operational. Criticizing French insurers, Dr Thebaud-Mony categorized their behaviour as "obstructive;" ANDEVA is engaged in a constant battle to get health insurers to change their practices.
September 28, 2001