EU must focus on growth and employment, says President
European Union/economic policy – Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, following his meeting with European social democrats
Paris, 30 August 2014
So I and the heads of government who came to meet me here in Paris took a number of decisions. The first was to ensure Europe is more focused than today on growth and employment. Initiatives are necessary. We supported the proposal by Matteo Renzi, the Italian Prime Minister, to convene a summit of the European Union, and therefore of all 28 [member states], in Italy on 6 October, on the issue of growth, with a determination to put employment at the heart of European choices. This EU summit will be followed – I made the proposal myself – by a Euro Area summit, if our partners agree to it, so that we can translate this determination into our own responsibilities as Euro Area countries, countries which share the same currency and must take decisions to ensure this currency provides stability – that’s the case – but above all prosperity, i.e. growth.
We also discussed what a Europe-wide economic policy that can achieve the objectives of growth and employment should look like.
First of all, we noted the statements by the European Central Bank President, Mario Draghi, and confirmed the diagnosis he himself made, namely that there’s insufficient demand in Europe and that it’s therefore time to ease monetary policy. But we can’t simply carry on waiting for a more accommodating monetary policy: we also have to make choices as Europeans, as heads of state and government in our respective countries, to carry out reforms. That’s what I’m doing in France with the government. Those reforms must lead to growth, but they can’t succeed unless there is growth. That’s why we must cut the Gordian Knot, as it were. Yes to reforms, all the necessary reforms, in order to improve our competitiveness, ensure we can be more productive, have more competition where necessary, more spending power too, and reduce deficits, but at the same time do it in a context of growth. Reforms must lead to more growth, and growth must make more reforms possible.
There’s also what Europe must do. So we got behind Jean-Claude Juncker’s proposals, but we asked them to be implemented as quickly as possible. I’m talking about the plan for €300 billion of investments, public investments, private investment, which will have to be linked together and, above all, will have to be embarked on at the end of the year or the beginning of next year.
And then there’s also flexibility, which must be compatible with the rules existing for honouring our commitments. I stress this too: France, like the countries here this morning, wants commitments to be honoured, but at the same time we want there to be room for flexibility, i.e. for the pace of deficit reduction to be compatible with growth targets themselves.
That was the gist of the discussions we had. For us, the main thing is to reorder Europe’s priorities and ensure it can address our fellow citizens’ concerns about employment and growth more than it does today. (…)./.