Friday 15 December 2017

New French finance minister vows to reform 'fiscal pact'

Pierre Moscovici, campaign manager of newly-elected French President Francois Hollande, speaks to the media as he arrives at the former campaign headquarters in Paris. Photo: Reuters
Pierre Moscovici, campaign manager of newly-elected French President Francois Hollande, speaks to the media as he arrives at the former campaign headquarters in Paris. Photo: Reuters

FRANCE will not ratify the European pact on fiscal discipline unless it is amended to include commitments to promote economic growth, the country's new finance minister, Pierre Moscovici said today.

"What we've said is the treaty will not be ratified as it stands," Mr Moscovici told BFM TV. "We're firm on this."



Mr Moscovici, part of a new left-leaning government formed after the swearing-in of Francois Hollande as France's first Socialist president in 17 years this week, has taken over from his conservative predecessor Francois Baroin.



The new French team was committed to serious management of public finances but also wanted a strong pro-growth strategy in Europe, he said, reiterating new president Francois Hollande's line during the election campaign.



Mr Hollande had long made his position clear on a pact that his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, signed with other European leaders in March.



The new president discussed the issue with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in person within hours of his swearing-in this week, Moscovici said.



"It (the pact) must be fleshed out with a part on economic growth, and when I say that, we're talking about an ambitious growth strategy," Moscovici said.



"What we are saying - and we are all very pro-European, Francois Hollande is very European, [prime minister] Jean-Marc Ayrault is very European and I am very European - is that we must take the construction of Europe in a new direction, not to shrug off budgetary responsibility ... for us budgetary responsibility and economic growth are not opposites," he said.



Mr Moscovici, who was a junior European affairs minister in the last left government of 1997-2002, said Merkel and Hollande had looked at a number of growth-promoting options including greater use of European structural development funds and funding by the European Investment Bank, but also so-called project bonds, pooled European debt finance for growth-promoting projects.

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