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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid