Pierre Moscovici, French finance minister, discusses possible pension reform in France and stresses that “social dialogue” with the people will be crucial to take the “right” decision.
France is in a worrying situation, the country’s finance minister told CNBC, but growth will return in the second half of the year as measures to stimulate job creation bear fruit.
“We are also now in a recession, or a stagnation in our country,” Pierre Moscovici told CNBC at the G-20 meeting of finance ministers in Moscow this weekend. “When I look at the figures, I see that we are in a situation which is worrying. I’m a finance minister, I am attacking it. But when I compare to the euro zone, we are in better shape.”
France’s economy contracted by 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2013, the country’s national statistics agency INSEE reported in June, confirming fears that the country had entered recession. The Bank of France forecast growth of 0.2 percent in the second quarter of 2013, however.
France has been accused of being slow to implement reforms, an accusation Moscovici rejected.
“In the second semester of 2013 we’ll have a positive growth […] so France is getting better. And we are doing what is necessary to do. We are reforming – reforming the labor market, reforming for competitiveness, reforming the pension system, and also helping companies and the state of local authorities to invest in the future. We’re on the right track,” Moscovici insisted.
He criticized policies of fiscal consolidation and austerity which are promoted to by countries such as Germany, saying they were useless without programs to promote economic growth.
“Some countries still believe that austerity is the key to the future. We don’t. The priority in the short run must absolutely be growth and jobs…We need to consolidate our public finances in the mid-term. But in the short term, the priority is job creation and growth. Without growth it is not possible to consolidate in a serious way without too much of a blow for the economy,” he said.