• France's news in English

Struggling Hollande vows to go on the 'offensive'

AFP/The Local · 16 May 2013, 17:56

Published: 16 May 2013 17:56 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Embattled President Francois Hollande vowed Thursday to "go on the offensive" in his second year to tackle France's economic woes after the country fell into recession amid rising unemployment.

Speaking during a wide-ranging press conference, Hollande also vowed new initiatives to reform Europe and push for growth in the 17-nation eurozone.

"I am well aware that there is a recession, that unemployment is rising," Hollande told hundreds of gathered journalists and officials.

"Year Two must be about going on the offensive," he said, maintaining a promise to reverse the rise in unemployment by the end of year.

"There can be no hope possible in our country as long as unemployment has not begun to decline," he said.

"Everything must be done so that the measures that have already been taken can be boosted to reduce unemployment by the end of the year."

Hollande also promised to launch an initiative to kickstart reforms in Europe and bring closer political union within the bloc in two years.

"If Europe does not advance it will fall or even be wiped out from the world map... My duty is to bring Europe out of its lethargy," he said.

The first anniversary of Hollande's inauguration on Wednesday was marred by news that the French economy had fallen into recession in the first three months of 2013 after two consecutive quarters of contraction.

The Socialist leader is under increasing pressure to address France's declining economic fortunes - blamed by many on a lack of competitiveness - and to tackle a 16-year high in unemployment.

Elected on a wave of optimism last year, Hollande has seen his approval ratings fall further and faster than any other president in modern French history.

Hollande is facing mounting pressure for a cabinet reshuffle, with even his Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius complaining this week of the finance ministry lacking a proper "boss".

Hollande insisted a reshuffle was "not on the agenda".

The recession has been blamed on falling household consumption, which suffered its most significant drop in 30 years in 2012, and a fall in exports in the first quarter of this year.

Story continues below…

Hollande outlined four measures to reform Europe, including the creation of an "economic government" for Europe that would have a designated chief and meet every month.

He also vowed to push for the immediate release of six billion euros in European funds for youth jobs, to press for European investment in industry and to promote a coordinated energy policy.

Hollande defended his first year in office, saying the government had laid the groundwork for reining in public finances and for re-starting growth.

He also paid homage to French soldiers serving in Mali, where Paris sent troops earlier this year to intervene against Islamist rebels who had seized control of the north.

Hollande said the intervention had "made France loved in all of Africa" and highlighted "the role of a great nation that has the power to have its influence felt in the world."

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available