Protesters marched in rally organisers say was aimed at fighting EU-imposed austerity, not criticising the government of President Francois Hollande.
More of French PM's interview with Mediapart: the TSCG, making EU more democratic, cabinet splits and Muslim anger
In this second and final part of his exclusive interview with Mediapart, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault answers the suggestion that he is railroading the democratic process with the adoption of the European Treaty on Stability, Cooperation and Governance (TSCG), sets out his position on the widespread use of tax havens by big banks and corporations, and for greater representation of national parliaments in EU decision-making. He also answers questions on recent domestic issues, including his government's decision to ban demonstrations in protest at the publication by a French magazine of cartoon caricatures of Prophet Mohammed, and the calling to book of his interior minister over his out-of-step comments on racial profiling and the right to vote of of non-EU nationals.
French PM Ayrault slams 'lack of vision' over euro crisis, calls for breathing space for Greece and defends fiscal compact
In this first part of a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Mediapart, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc pledges his government will do its all to keep the euro alive, argues that a delay should be given to Greece to meet its deficit target and answers mounting criticism that he and President François Hollande have capitulated their pro-growth policies with the adoption, without any compromise, of the austerity-promoting European Treaty on Stability, Cooperation and Governance, the TSCG. The French Prime Minister, in an interview conducted in French and translated here into English, calls on the treaty’s opponents to come clean that they want to leave the euro, and claims the election of President Hollande has announced a re-orientation of European policy-making. “I am convinced there has been an enormous degree of political weakness and lack of vision since the start of the crisis,” he comments, adding that European leaders are “beginning to be conscious of the major risks into which we will be plunged if Greece leaves the euro.”
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.
France’s Constitutional Council this month ruled that the country’s adoption of the European Union Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance (TSCG), which commits governments to strict deficit limits and, by consequence, severe austerity measures, with harsh penalties for those who transgress, requires no reform to the constitution, and therefore no public consultation through a referendum. The fiscal pact, agreed in March and which socialist President François Hollande initially pledged during his election campaign to renegotiate, is now certain to be ratified by the country’s socialist-dominated parliament. Here, Mediapart Editor-in-Chief Edwy Plenel argues that the move is nothing short of a silent Coup d’Etat imposed by a political elite through flagrant abuse of the democratic process. Europe, he says, desperately needs a thorough debate and public consultation over the policies that are driving nations into a brick wall.