News / Europe

France Unveils Tough Austerity Plan

French President Nicolas Sarkozy at G20 summit in Cannes, Nov. 3, 2011.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy at G20 summit in Cannes, Nov. 3, 2011.
Lisa Bryant

The French government unveiled tough new austerity measures Monday as fears grow that Europe's fiscal problems may touch new members of the 17-nation eurozone.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon warned that billions of euros in spending cuts and tax hikes amount to some of the toughest in more than half a century, as he unveiled them on Monday.

Fillon said the word "bankruptcy" was no longer an abstract term at a press conference where he unveiled the measures. He said France's economic, financial and social sovereignty demanded collective effort and even some sacrifices.

The plan includes raising the official retirement age to 62 by 2017 -- a year earlier than expected. Other measures include raising value-added and business taxes, with an overall goal of eliminating the country's budget deficit by 2016.

Coming six months ahead of presidential elections, the plan is likely to further erode French President Nicolas Sarkozy's already record-low popularity ratings.

The main opposition Socialist Party was swift to criticize the cuts along with union leaders. Force Ouvriere Union leader Jean-Claude Mailly slammed the austerity plan for hurting ordinary taxpayers. What France and other European countries need isn't more austerity, he said, but economic growth.

That sentiment is shared by analysts like Simon Tilford, chief economist at the Center for European Reform in London.

"The [French] recovery has already ground to a halt and it's sliding back into a recession," he said. "That is not the time that any government should be cutting spending. All that risks doing is pushing the economy further into recession."

The austerity measures come as neighboring Italy threatens to become the latest victim of the spreading eurozone crisis.

"It's not beyond the realms of possibility that in a few months time France could find itself in a similar position to the one in which Italy finds itself now," said Tilford.

France's belt tightening takes place just days after President Sarkozy presided over a G20 summit in Cannes dominated by the European debt problems -- with Greece and Italy on the front lines of the crisis.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More