Hollande vows to create jobs in New Year's address


French President François Hollande reiterated his pledge to reduce unemployment in a televised message on Tuesday evening, the president's annual New Year's message to the French people from the Elysée Palace.


Hollande proposed establishing a "responsibility pact" for corporations that would lower their labour charges in return for boosting recruitment as part of a raft of measures to reduce unemployment, which he had vowed to reduce by the end of 2013.

France's unemployment numbers rose 0.5% in November to almost 3.3 million, with the jobless rate continuing to hover stubbornly at 10.5% within metropolitan France.

Hollande, meanwhile, has seen his approval rating sink to an all-time low for any president since France's Fifth Republic was founded 55 years ago.

"We need to mobilise everyone to win the battle [against unemployment]," Hollande said. "That is why I am proposing a responsibility pact for corporations. It is founded on a simple principle: fewer labour taxes on business, fewer restrictions on corporate activities [in exchange for] more recruitment and greater dialogue with trade unions."

Hollande did not specify how he would go about reducing labour charges. French corporate margins are among the lowest in Europe, partly due to the high state fees that are needed to fund its still-generous welfare state.

Hollande also acknowledged that taxes have become too burdensome in France.

The French president went on to say that France would remain firm "in the face of racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination". He was speaking a day after Paris prosecutors launched an investigation into whether a prominent French comedian had broken the country's laws against inciting racial hatred for joking about World War II gas chambers in a performance earlier this month.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)


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