France To Eke Out 0.2 Percent Gdp Growth This Year: Insee

bought French rival Pechiney SA a decade ago, eventually breaking it up and shutting plants. More recently, ArcelorMittal, the worlds largest steelmaker, decided to shutter a plant in France in the north-eastern city of Florange. The plant was the site where French President Francois Hollande pledged a few months before being elected in May 2012 to pass a law forcing large firms to sell rather than close sites to cap unemployment, which now stands at a 14-year high. Socialist Credentials The Socialist president, whose popularity is at a record low, is trying to make good on that campaign promise after being accused by some unions of caving in to ArcelorMittal when he ruled against a proposal by Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg to temporarily nationalize the Florange plant last December. The event is a central episode in the ministers just-released book La bataille du made in France, on defending the countrys industry in the face of large corporations with questionable behavior. With the bill, Hollande is seeking to re-burnish his credentials with his base. To its opponents, the bill asks potential buyers to stay out. The provision forcing a search for a buyer of sites before their closure could be interpreted as telling foreign investors not to invest in France, Jean-Claude Rivalland, a partner at Allen & Overy LLP in Paris, said in an interview. In terms of perception, this could be a disaster. Further Complexity Even without the law, the state has not been shy about blocking deals. One such example this year was the failed attempt by Yahoo! Inc. to invest in YouTubes smaller rival DailyMotion, a unit of phone operator Orange SA (ORA) , in which the state is the single-biggest shareholder with a 27 percent stake. Orange Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard had sought to sell a majority stake in DailyMotion to expand the brand and finance research. Industry Minister Montebourg summoned executives of the two companies to the finance ministry in April, giving them a dressing down and accusing the Orange executive of selling one of Frances crown jewels, said a person with direct knowledge of the discussion.

France’s Hollande tells ministers to end Roma row

Credit: Reuters/Philippe Wojazer PARIS | Wed Oct 2, 2013 8:05am EDT PARIS (Reuters) – President Francois Hollande told two of his top ministers on Wednesday they should end a public row over France’s policy towards its Roma population if they wanted to stay in his government. Interior Minister Manuel Valls last week said most of some 20,000 Roma housed in makeshift camps around French cities could never be integrated into French society and so should be “taken back to the border” for transfer back to Romania and Bulgaria. Housing Minister Cecile Duflot, a leader of the ecologist Greens coalition partners to the ruling Socialists, denounced Valls for betraying the core human rights values that France prided itself on, and demanded that Hollande reprimand him. Seeking to heal a widening rift between centrists and left-wingers in his coalition over the issue, Hollande took both Duflot and Valls to task at his weekly cabinet meeting. “I insist that all ministers pay full mind to their mission, their behavior, how they express themselves and of course, how they act,” Hollande told the meeting, according to presidential aides. “Being a member of a government does not mean you cannot have your point of view but it does mean you have to strictly apply the rules I have just set out,” he said, adding: “the debate should be inside the government not in public”. The dispute not only exposed tensions within Hollande’s 17-month-old coalition but raised new questions over the authority of the president, whose poll ratings have fallen to 23 percent amid dissatisfaction over his record on the economy and jobs. Hollande said he was also asking Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who is suffering from low popularity ratings too, to ensure better coordination in the government. The far-right National Front has signaled it plans to make the Roma issue a central campaign theme for next March’s municipal elections. It is hopeful it can tap a protest vote against Hollande to score gains in town halls across France. Valls’ tough talk on law and order has made him Hollande’s most popular government minister. A poll released at the weekend showed three-quarters of French agreed with his comments on the Roma. Hollande’s government has sought to distance itself from a hard-line policy under conservative former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who explicitly accused Roma of links to crime and launched a program of deportations. Yet since the beginning of the year some 13,000 Roma have been evicted from illegal camps and welfare groups say the failure of schemes to re-house their inhabitants means they find themselves on the streets or simply set up new camps elsewhere. Moreover France this week said it was currently opposed to Romania and Bulgaria joining the European Union’s passport-free Schengen zone when current restrictions on the movement of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens end in January 2014.

A Businessman is silhouetted as he stands under the Arche de la Defense, in the financial district west of Paris, November 20, 2012. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann PARIS | Thu Oct 3, 2013 4:02pm EDT PARIS (Reuters) – The French economy is on course to grow 0.2 percent this year, at last recovering all the ground lost since the financial crisis more than five years ago, the INSEE statistics office said on Thursday. In its quarterly economic outlook, INSEE also forecast that the unemployment rate would finally stabilize by year-end at 11 percent after rising steadily for two and a half years. The government of President Francois Hollande has promised voters it will finally get unemployment falling by the end of the year. “The pledge to reverse the trend, which some people only recently considered to be impossible, now seems more than ever to be within reach,” Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said in a statement. Joblessness has soared as the 2 trillion euro ($2.7 trillion) economy struggles to recover from the global crisis of 2008-2009. “When we run the numbers, we can see that we are going to get (gross domestic product) back to the level we were at in the beginning of the crisis in early 2008,” Cedric Audenis, the head of INSEE’s economic department, told journalists. INSEE estimated that growth in the euro zone’s second-biggest economy would reach 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter in the final three months after stagnating in the third quarter. However, after a short, shallow recession at the start of the year, the economy would eke out only 0.2 percent growth for the whole of 2013, which was up from a forecast in June for a contraction of 0.1 percent. Moscovici said if the recovery firmed up in the coming quarters, then 2014 growth could prove stronger than the 0.9 percent forecast the government has built its budget on. Meanwhile high unemployment and plenty of spare capacity at companies would keep inflation low, INSEE said, predicting a rate of 1.1 percent in December. With profit margins improving and interest rates low, corporate investment would return to growth in the final quarter of the year. Although households’ purchasing power was seen falling in the second half of the year, consumer spending was estimated to pick up as they started saving less. ($1 = 0.7340 euros) (Reporting by Yann Le Guernigou and Leigh Thomas; Editing by Ruth Pitchford) Tweet this

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