Sunday

22nd May 2022

Thousands protest against French austerity budget

  • French leftists are accusing Hollande of signing up to the Merkel-Sarkozy austerity pact. (Photo: philippe leroyer)

French President Francois Hollande faced his first serious public backlash after up to 50,000 lined the streets of Paris on Sunday (30 September) in protest against his €37 billion austerity budget.

Organisers of the event, which brought together around 60 left-wing groups, claimed that 50,000 protestors took to the streets to denounce the cuts programme.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Today is the day the French people launch a movement against the politics of austerity," said the Front de Gauche president, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who finished fourth in the Presidential elections.

On Tuesday (2 October) deputies in the National Assembly will debate the fiscal compact, with a number of members from the ruling Socialist and Green parties expected to defy the government's majority.

French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault accused the protesters of jeopardising the French economy and the stability of the euro. Opposing the fiscal compact would “risk aggravating the crisis”, he said, adding that “the ambiguity of saying 'non' is also something that could lead to the end of the euro."

The protest came days after President Hollande unveiled a package of spending cuts and tax hikes to plug a €37 billion hole in the country's public finances. The package is supposed to reduce France's budget deficit to 3 percent in 2013 from 4.5 percent this year, bringing in €30 billion for the treasury.

As expected, the budget included a new 75 percent top tax rate on those earning over €1 million per year, which opponents claim will see thousands of France's richest people move to the UK and elsewhere for tax purposes. Hollande's budget has also shied away from making any cuts to government jobs.

The budget includes €25 billion of cuts in government spending alongside a further €20 billion in extra taxes levied on businesses and the rich.

Statistics revealed last week that France’s national debt to GDP ratio had risen to 91 percent of GDP, a level described as “critical” by Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, and which is far higher than the 60% threshold in the EU's Stability and Growth Pact. The country also lost its coveted AAA credit rating in January.

During his election campaign, Hollande had promised to re-open talks on the fiscal compact treaty devised by former President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The treaty, which was agreed at a summit in December 2011, foresees a balanced budget rule for national constitutions.

However, Hollande is now expected to focus on securing a detailed EU growth and jobs plan, including front-loading the use of EU structural funds, project bonds and a youth guarantee scheme.

France adopts 'combat budget' for 2013

France's Socialist government on Friday unveiled €30bn worth of spending cuts and tax hikes, including a 75 percent tax rate on millionaires.

Hollande: '€30 billion must be found'

French Socialist President Francois Hollande has outlined a two-year plan to overhaul the country's stagnating economy and to boost employment.

Opinion

What Europe still needs to do to save its bees

On World Bee Day, it is essential to pay homage to a variety of pollinating insects crucial for our food security. A number of EU projects contribute to their sustained survival.

Agenda

Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK

Eurozone finance ministers will discuss the economic worries with the backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, agriculture ministers are set to talk food prices, and EU affairs ministers will put Hungary on the spot in the Article 7 procedure.

Podcast

Ultraconservatives in Putin's shadow

Vladimir Putin's Ukraine war has threatened to be a public relations disaster for hard-right gatherings like the Conservative Political Action Conference — now meeting in Budapest and featuring Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who remains highly-cordial with the Kremlin.

News in Brief

  1. UK to send 'hundreds' of migrants to Rwanda each year
  2. Norwegian knife attacks were domestic dispute
  3. Sweden hits back at Turkey's 'disinformation' in Nato bid
  4. Germany's Schröder gives up one of two Russia jobs
  5. G7 countries pledge €18bn in financial aid for Ukraine
  6. Italian unions strike in protest over military aid for Ukraine
  7. Russia cuts gas supply to Finland
  8. Half of Gazprom's clients have opened rouble accounts

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. What Europe still needs to do to save its bees
  2. Remembering Falcone: How Italy almost became a narco-state
  3. Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK
  4. MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder
  5. MEPs call for a more forceful EU response to Kremlin gas cut
  6. Catalan leader slams Pegasus use: 'Perhaps I'm still spied on'
  7. More EU teams needed to prosecute Ukraine war crimes
  8. French EU presidency struggling on asylum reforms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us