French President Nicolas Sarkozy has unveiled a stimulus plan worth more than $30 billion to fight the economic and financial downturn.

The French plan is the latest of a series of proposals by various European governments to earmark massive amounts of money to help reinvigorate their moribund economies.  In a speech in northern France, President Sarkozy said the global economic crisis would sharply change people's behavior, values and ideas - and that France needed to confront it head on.

Mr. Sarkozy said the response by his conservative government will be investment.  He said investment was the best way to sustain activities and to save jobs for today - and tomorrow.  For a long time, he said, France had postponed this kind of investment to make the French economy more competitive.  He said not doing so now would be a major error.

The French president spoke in Douai, which is home to a major Renault car factory.  As elsewhere in Europe and the United States, the French car industry has been hard hit by the crisis, and part of Mr. Sarkozy's stimulus plan aims to shore up the automobile sector.

Italy, Germany, Spain and Britain have also unrolled similar plans worth tens-of-billions of dollars.

While France has so far narrowly escaped a recession - which is defined as two successive periods of negative growth - it is widely expected to be in recession next year.  The 15-nation eurozone, which includes France, is already in recession.