It was during a joint press conference in Brussels where the European Commission’s Jose Manuel Barroso stood with French President, Francois Hollande and called for faster economic reforms from France. The country has been granted two more years to bring its budget deficit below the EU limit.
President Barroso pushed for France to make up for what he claimed has been 20 years of lost economic competitiveness:
“We are waiting for credible reforms from France and other partners because there is a problem of competitiveness in France, even compare to European partners.”
However, Francois Hollande defended his year-old government’s reform record:
“We have made a lot of reforms, we were quick, we were strong, but we still have to reform ourselves, not because the European Commission tells us to, not because it is part of the negotiation, but because it is in our interest.”
Both men agreed that their top priority was restoring growth to Europe. The conference comes on a day when new figures showed that the euro zone and France, its second largest economy, slipped into a shallow recession in the first quarter. Unemployment in France now stands at 3.2 million.