Hollande says economic recovery underway
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In a Bastille Day interview with French TV channels, President François Hollande said that France’s economic recovery was underway, with both industrial production and consumption picking up despite persistent unemployment.
French President Francois Hollande said on Sunday that the economic recovery had started in France, which entered a recession earlier this year and has record-high unemployment.
“The economic recovery is here,” he said during a Bastille Day interview with top television channels, specifying that industrial production had picked up and there had been a slight uptick in consumption.
Hollande, whose job approval ratings are hovering around a dismal 30%, also promised to fight French “pessimism”, which he said was worse than that of other European counties and even “countries at war”.
Possible tax hikes on the horizon
But with France struggling to rein in its deficit, Hollande did not rule out tax increases to help balance the budget.
“We will make we have made savings, and I will increase taxes only if absolutely necessary, ideally as little as possible,” he said.
France’s economy entered a recession in the first quarter of this year, but is forecast to return to growth in the second quarter, with a 0.2 percent expansion.
Hollande also renewed his vow to reverse the rise in joblessness by the end of the year, after the number of unemployed in France hit a record 3.26 million.
“There is the will, there is a strategy, there is consistency,” he said, promising that 100,000 jobs for youth would be created by the end of the year.
Ban on shale gas exploration to be upheld
Hollande also said that he would not revoke France’s ban on the exploration for shale gas under his presidency.
“As long as I am president, there were will be no exploration for shale gas,” Hollande said, adding that the fracking technique [which entails injecting chemicals mixed with water and sand into the ground to release the natural gases] used to extract shale gas presented too many “risks to groundwater”.
Energy companies have been banned since 2011 from exploiting shale gas in France over fears of environmental risks from the potential air and water pollution involved in fracking.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)