France and Greece both go to the urns on Sunday for crucial elections that will, whatever the results, have a significant effect on the future of the EU’s approach to the economic crisis. While the final play-off in the French presidential elections on May 6th could produce a turning point in the use of blanket austerity measures to nurse already strangled EU economies back to health, the Greek legislative elections are in effect a referendum on the country’s continued membership of the eurozone. Mediapart’s Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant reports on what is likely to be a watershed moment for Europe.
The Prime Minister François Fillon has just announced a series of new austerity measures to produce a further 12 billion euros in savings for the government in 2011 and 2012. This follows a downgrading in the forecast for economic growth for both years. The measures include a new reduction in the benefits afforded by a variety of tax breaks and a temporary 3% tax on those with massive incomes. But, argues Laurent Mauduit, the overall package is just another sign of the government's incoherent and crazy economic policy. And one which he says risks tipping France back into recession.
The French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) in December released its latest report on key economic facts and trends in France. Mediapart's Laurent Mauduit has studied the figures and finds austerity plans are stifling French growth, with households rather than businesses bearing the brunt of the effort.