France's Hollande 'seeks 120 bn euro growth pact'
Sunday, 17 June 2012 15:45 GMT
French President Francois Hollande has proposed a 120 billion euro "growth pact" ahead of key talks with eurozone leaders, newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche reported on Sunday.
In a letter sent to fellow European leaders on Thursday, a copy of which the newspaper said it obtained, Hollande proposed a series of measures including a financial transaction tax and investment to boost job creation.
It was sent as Hollande prepares to embark on a series of talks where he aims to shift the focus of eurozone economic policy from austerity to growth, culminating in a European Union summit on June 28-29 in Brussels.
"Measures to effect rapid growth, to the tune of 120 billion euros, should be decided by the European Council as of June," Hollande wrote in the 11-page document, entitled "A Pact for Growth in Europe".
"They should be developed before the end of the year, with in particular the creation of a tax on financial transactions. Finally they should be accompanied by measures for employment, in the first place for young people," the newspaper quoted the letter as saying.
Funds for the pact would come from three sources, it said: 55 billion euros from unused European structural funds, 60 billion euros raised by the European Investment Bank and 4.5 billion euros in project bonds for infrastructure projects.
While 120 billion euros ($152 billion) represents less than one percent of EU gross domestic product, Hollande said he was "counting on a knock-on effect on all sectors of the economy", the paper said.
The newspaper also reported that Hollande had accepted Germany's rejection of so-called eurobonds -- mutualised eurozone debt -- and was looking instead for "a road map for the next 10 years" to study the idea.
France and Germany have been at loggerheads over eurozone economic policy since Hollande defeated right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy last month, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisting that austerity should remain the key focus.
Earlier this month Berlin proposed its own growth plan for Europe, an eight-page document focussed on the potentials of the single market and on structural reforms, including privatisations and labour market reforms.
Hollande is to leave Monday for talks with fellow G20 leaders in Mexico and on Friday attend a meeting of the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Spain in Rome, ahead of the EU summit.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that the Brussels meeting was vital.
"Faced with such a worrying situation we cannot let the meeting fail," Ayrault said as he was voting in parliamentary elections on Sunday.
"Europeans must be up to the task of resolving the debt issue, managing the debt, stopping the banking system exploding... and moreover we need growth initiatives," he said.