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Hollande talks debt and growth with global chiefs

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Photo: OECD
10:31 CET+01:00
French President François Hollande holds talks on Monday with the heads of the World Bank and other top economic bodies to discuss the eurozone debt crisis and ways to kickstart growth.

The meeting will start at 11:00 am at the Paris headquarters of the OECD and will be followed by a working lunch and a press conference, the Elysée presidential office said.

An official told AFP that Hollande had called the meeting "to discuss international economic issues and economic and social recovery ... to spur growth, jobs and competitiveness".

Those attending include World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim, the International Monetary Fund's Christine Lagarde, World Trade Organization head Pascal Lamy, International Labour Organization Secretary General Guy Ryder and the OECD's Angel Gurria.

They will all then go on to Berlin to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday.

France's foreign, finance and labour ministers will also be present to "exchange expertise" at the Paris meeting where "international organizations will outline their vision of economic perspectives for developed and emerging nations," the official said.

The meeting comes amid tortuous efforts to battle the contagion threatening the euro currency zone and different approaches advocated by the heads of the bloc's two main economies – Merkel and Hollande.

Merkel is all for austerity while Hollande insists on measures that will spur growth.

At the end of July, Hollande and the OECD secretary general had agreed to hold "regular talks on economic and social matters" as well as the effects of globalization.

A member of Hollande's entourage said the French president will stress "the need for better coordination among different economies and economic organizations on a global level for regulated globalization to promote growth and jobs".

France is also trying to restore competitiveness in its domestic industry. Its share in the global market has fallen from 6.2 percent in 1990 to 3.6 percent.

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A government-commissioned report has sparked outrage here by saying that France needs a "shock" to boost competitiveness and evoking the scrapping of payroll levies paid by employers by as much as 50 billion euros ($65 billion).

The idea is to shift a part of the tax burden on to workers by increasing the so-called CSG levy which helps fund the social security system.

In a bid to soothe concerns voiced by leading unions Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the programme could be spread over two or three years and it would not be a "shock" but more of a "holistic plan".

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