Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

French Premier Tries to Ease German Uncertainty

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

French Premier Tries to Ease German Uncertainty

Article excerpt

Jean-Marc Ayrault, a fluent German speaker, used every opportunity to reach out to his hosts in their native language, seeking to dispel doubts about his country's economy.

Jean-Marc Ayrault sought to reassure Germans on Thursday during his first visit to Berlin as the French prime minister that his country remains committed to stimulating growth, reducing the deficit and contributing to overall prosperity in Europe.

Through a series of high-level meetings and media interviews, Mr. Ayrault, a fluent German speaker, used every opportunity to reach out to his hosts in their native language, seeking to dispel doubts about the willingness of Francois Hollande's Socialist government to take the necessary steps to revive the economy.

"The goal of the French government is to create the conditions for a return to growth, investment, access to credit and creation of jobs," Mr. Ayrault told a news conference after an hourlong meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"This is our responsibility and I tell you here, in Berlin, that we are doing everything possible, we are working toward a clear goal, to return to growth and a policy of prosperity that will bring back hope," said Mr. Ayrault, who also held talks with Wolfgang Schauble, the German finance minister, and addressed a conference of economic leaders.

Official figures published Thursday showed the French economy expanded 0.2 percent between July and September from the previous quarter of 2012. The German economy, which has begun to show signs of cooling, grew at the same rate for that period.

Although Mr. Hollande has promised to reduce public spending, mostly through raising taxes, German leaders have been growing increasingly concerned that if he does not act decisively enough France could get sucked into the crisis that has forced bailouts of Greece, Portugal and Ireland, in what would be a crushing setback for efforts to stem the turmoil in the European Union. …

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