European Union/economic policy
Q. – The 44th World Economic Forum is also a time when people wonder about the future of the economy, and in particular about Western economic policies. Do you think François Hollande’s social-liberal shift will be welcomed in Davos?
THE MINISTER – The presentation of the latest decisions is, I think, welcomed everywhere. By definition, I travel to many countries and so I hear – it’s not about issuing a judgement – everything that is expressed by the public in the UK and America. It’s true that the comments made by François Hollande at his press conference were well received. Simply, people are now saying: “it’s very good, you’ve decided to make savings, boost employment through growth and have confidence in companies, but now you must deliver – in other words, we’re looking at your first decisions.” And so that’s what has started to be done.
Yesterday I was in Africa, at the investiture of the Central African Republic’s President, but I saw there was a meeting at the Elysée on a whole series of savings; that’s the direction we must move in.
Q. – We heard – it was a bombshell, of course – the boss of Total, Christophe de Margerie, say that Europe should actually be regarded as an emerging country, because there’s not enough growth and there’s still too much unemployment. Do you feel like reacting to what Christophe de Margerie has said?
THE MINISTER – You have to look at the figures. When you look at the figures, there’s a whole number of countries that have growth rates of 7%, 8%, even 10%, which are less developed than us. There’s the United States, which is picking up again quite strongly, and Europe will have better results than last year. But it’s growth of 1% or a maximum of 1.5%. So the European economy must be given a boost. That requires decisions by each country, particularly France, but it also requires Europe as a whole to be more geared to training, investment and research and not solely to fiscal measures, even though that’s necessary.
So the diagnosis is fair: we must push our growth, because Europe’s big problem is employment. If we want more employment, we must have more growth and therefore put fuel in the tank. (…)./.