Figures from across French society have gathered in Paris to hear plans for a multi-billion euro social programme to help fight the financial crisis.
Politicians, business chiefs and union leaders were invited to the Elysee Palace as President Nicolas Sarkozy identified his objectives: jobs, protection for middle-class families and what he called social justice and dialogue. The proposals include raising unemployment benefit, and a one-off payment of up to 500 euros for people losing their jobs. The plans would cost around 2.5 billion euros. Although the financial downturn has hit France less hard than some of its European neighbours, popular unrest is growing. As elsewhere, voters want their political leaders to do more to ease the mounting pain.