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Plans to save economy outlined

Sarkozy wants a more unified eurozone and efforts on jobs and social security funding at home

PRESIDENT Sarkozy outlined plans for action to improve the economy of France and the eurozone in a speech in Toulon.

He said he is to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday – “France and Germany are pushing for a new European treaty,” he said. “Together we will make proposals to guarantee the future of Europe.”

These will be submitted to the other states at a summit of heads of state and government at the end of next week.

The president said he believes the EU must move towards taking more decisions on a majority rather than unanimity basis.

There should also be “faster and more severe sanctions” for countries that do not respect rules on deficits.

Each eurozone country should adopt by law as a “golden rule” the objective of having a balanced budget. The responsible thing would be for France to do it before the presidential elections next year, he added.

Europe could be “swept away by economic crisis if it doesn’t pull itself together,” he said. The end of the euro would “double French debt”.

“Fear is back,” he said – of France losing control of its destinty due to the eurozone crisis, a fear that “destroys confidence” of investors, entrepreneurs, consumers, bankers and employers. The way to confront this is by “telling the truth,” he said.

He said there would be a summit on jobs and unemployment in January, with various partners, such as the unions, invited to take part.

It has also become necessary to look at reform of the way social security is financed, he said. “We can’t do it as in the past by only taking money off salaries when our borders are more open and we have to compete with countries with low salaries”.

He reinforced his commitment to nuclear power, saying it was not in France’s interest to “give up our energy independence by moving away from nuclear energy in which France has invested more than half a century of intelligence and money”.

He called on people to respond to the crisis with “work, effort and controlling our expenditure”.

Socialist Party spokesman Benoît Hamon said: “Nicolas Sarkozy well and truly delivered an electoral campaign speech”.

Fellow Socialist Ségolène Royal, the president Poitou-Charentes, said: “Sarkozy spoke of urgency and fear, but he’s the one causing fear beause he’s made the economic crisis and unemployment worse. What’s urgent is to have a change of president in 2012 to take real action.”

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