Locatie: Netherlands

When I was young, I delayed prosperity for my country.

vrijdag, mei 18, 2012

French FM: No EU pact without growth

French Economy, Finance and Foreign Trade Minister Pierre Moscovici takes a seat in his office following a handover ceremony.
French Economy, Finance and Foreign Trade Minister Pierre Moscovici takes a seat in his office following a handover ceremony.
  • NEW: Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and his ministers prepare for first Cabinet meeting
  • New Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici says an ambitious strategy for growth is needed
  • President Francois Hollande vowed during campaign to alter European austerity pact
  • Hollande's new government stresses its commitment to its European partners

Paris (CNN) -- New French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said Thursday his country would not ratify a European pact on budget discipline if it does not include measures to boost growth.

Moscovici said an "ambitious" strategy for growth was needed, in an interview with CNN affiliate BFM-TV.

The fiscal pact was signed by most European leaders late last year, and Germany, the economic powerhouse of the region, has said it is not up for renegotiation.

Moscovici said President Francois Hollande, sworn into office this week, was well aware of the gravity of the crisis facing Europe.

But the new Socialist government would stick to the campaign promises made by Hollande, he said, including his pledge to incorporate a "growth dimension" into the fiscal compact.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and his Cabinet are to meet for the first time Thursday afternoon.

The 17 men and 17 women who make up the government will pose for a "family photograph" before getting on with business, BFM-TV reports.

On the agenda is a salary cut of 30% for the ministers and the president, in line with a campaign promise by Hollande.

Hollande hopes Greece stays in eurozone
Hollande sworn in as French president
Building through austerity in France

Speaking earlier as he took over as finance minister from Francois Baroin, Moscovici said the government's focus would be on the Greek crisis, the consolidation of the euro zone and a reorientation of European efforts in favor of growth.

He added that he is a "committed European."

"We are conscious that we can do nothing alone. We must work together with all our partners, and above all with Germany and the European institutions," Moscovici said.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also stressed his commitment to Europe on BFM-TV.

"I feel deeply European, but we need a different Europe, a Europe that is much more concentrated on employment," he said.

The pact, championed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is designed to increase fiscal discipline and prevent a future crisis by ensuring that governments respect deficit rules and do not overspend.

Hollande's first trip as president, made hours after his inauguration Tuesday, was to Berlin, where he met with Merkel to discuss the economy.

"I said that my wish is that growth is not an empty phrase, that it is something which, in reality, is happening," Hollande told reporters in a joint news conference with Merkel after the talks. "Because, without growth, we can't do whatever we want, we won't reach the goals which we want to -- and to reduce the debt and deficit."

He said the best solution would be to "put everything on the table" on May 23, when the region's leaders plan to meet next.

Speaking earlier this month, Merkel said that she was in favor of growth but that it must be sustainable, rather than programs made on the back of more debt.

Increased competitiveness is the key to sustainable growth, she said.

Voters in France and Greece, where political turmoil continues after an election failed to produce a government, are the latest in Europe to express their unhappiness about the policy of austerity.

As Greek politicians set a new election date Wednesday, Merkel said she regretted the suffering of the Greek people in the face of harsh government budget cuts.

"It's very bitter, obviously," she said of the austerity measures that have left some Greeks struggling to pay for food or utilities.

But, she said, "Sacrifices had to be made. ... I think these are necessary measures that had to be taken."

Merkel, a champion of forcing governments to balance their budgets in order to promote stable economic growth in Europe, did offer possible assistance to Greece.

"Europe needs to show solidarity and help, particularly with growth, unemployment and development," she said.

CNN's Laura Perez Maestro, Laura Smith-Spark and Rachel Ramsay contributed to this report.


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