France’s President Sarkozy has vigorously defended his handling of the economic crisis in a prime time television interview. His main concern, he said, was to preserve jobs. With this in mind, the President pledged to scrap a local business tax called the “taxe professionnelle” to help keep French firms competitive.
“To build the same car in the Czech Republic, which is a European Union member, and in France, there is a difference of 1,000 euros,” he said in the live broadcast. “And of those 1,000 euros, one third is represented by the “taxe professionnelle” which does not exist anywhere else in Europe. He said it would be abolished next year “because I want to keep factories in France.” Unemployment has been rising steadily in the euro zone’s second largest economy. Sarkozy’s 26 billion euro stimulus package emphasises public investment rather than encouraging high street spending. He maintained the downturn would not stop him reforming the country. “That is the mandate I received and it is my duty. It is the only way for France to emerge from the crisis stronger than it went into it,” Sarkozy said. A week after a nationwide strike over his reforms, he said he would discuss issues including increasing family welfare or unemployment benefits. But union leaders have voiced disappointment at the initiatives Sarkozy laid out on TV. They have warned they will to launch further protests against his government.