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January 28, 2012

French President Outlines New Economic Plans

The embattled president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, is outlining new economic proposals during a broadcast Sunday that observers say is aimed at boosting his poor standing with voters ahead of April's general election.

Though Sarkozy has yet to announce his candidacy, he is widely expected to face Socialist Francois Hollande, who is polling ahead in public opinion surveys, as he seeks a second six-year term.

Sarkozy's plan calls for an increase in the value-added tax on goods and services while employer's payroll contributions would be cut. The French leader's proposals are aimed at addressing the country's rampant unemployment with nearly three million people are out of work.

The French leader is also proposing a tax on financial transactions in France that he wants other European Union (EU) nations to adopt.

Sarkozy's television appearance comes two weeks after France lost its top triple-A credit rating and just a week after Hollande launched his presidential campaign with a speech attacking what he termed "the world of high finance."

Also Sunday, in Athens, the Greek Prime Minister, Lucas Papademos, met with the leaders of the country's three main political parties and later in a statement said there was complete agreement on the austerity measures needed to reduce Greece's debt and save it from bankruptcy.  

The deal, due to be finalized later in the week, would qualify Greece for a new bailout from the EU and the International Monetary Fund.

Greece must secure a new $169 billion loan package within the next few weeks to avoid defaulting on financial obligations due in March.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.