Ahead of a vote in parliament next month, the French cabinet on Wednesday approved adoption of the European fiscal treaty, the TSCG, which will require governments to limit their public deficits to 0.5 percent of gross domestic product. To prepare to meet the target, French President François Hollande has pledged to reduce the country’s huge public deficit to 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, with a raft of spending cuts and tax increases contained in a new public finances law to be presented before parliament on September 28th. It represents the most severe austerity programme to be introduced in France for 50 years. But a number of leading French economists, including several who publicly supported Hollande’s election campaign, now warn of the potentially catastrophic effects of the tough austerity programme. They argue that the policies will further starve economic growth and thereby simply worsen public finances, leading to a never-ending spiral of recession and austerity. Lénaïg Bredoux reports.
The price of many consumer goods and services across France rise in January as austerity measures adopted in November 2011 come into effect.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon says no third raft of austerity measures are due unless 2012 first-quarter growth is less than forecast.
France has unveiled the toughest austerity measures since WWII, despite the looming danger of a double-dip recession, vowing to slash borrowing.
Across Europe, governments have brought in massive budget cuts totalling up to 400 billion euros to stem rising deficits. Ministers say the cuts are necessary to bring about economic stability and reassure the markets. Critics say they are unjust, hitting the poorest the hardest, and unsound, marking a return to failed economic dogmas of the past. So are these so-called austerity plans really unavoidable? What do all these billions in announced savings really represent - and could these drastic plans in fact kill off any return to economic growth?