France: Sarkozy’s triple A for Austerity

8 November 2011 – Presseurop Les Echos

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On 7 November, two and a half months after an initial plan to boost state revenues by 12 billion euros, French Prime Minister François Fillon presented fresh measures that will save 7 billion as early as 2012. The new package is considered a matter of urgency “to reassure markets and ratings agencies as to the government’s commitment to reducing the cost of the French social model”, and to enable France to conserve its AAA rating, writes Le Monde.

To make savings of 65 billion by 2016, the government has decided to increase taxes on large companies and VAT rates in a number of sectors including restaurants, raise the legal retirement age to 62 in 2017 instead of in 2018, and to partially de-index certain benefits including rent and children’s allowances.

Les Echos notes that the measures “will be sufficient to convince the French that the battle to reduce the national debt will not be painless. At the same time, the new series of clearly courageous decisions to save 7 billion by 2012, will result in only 2 billion of savings that are actually derived from spending cuts — whether they be reductions in government or social security spending. For the country the OECD ranks second (just after Denmark) for the level of its public spending, it is still very little”, complains the business daily.

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