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Sarkozy takes back to-basics approach

Youth crime, unemployment and dependency of the elderly are his priorities, the president said, questioned on television

PRESIDENT Sarkozy has stressed youth crime, unemployment and dependency of the elderly as the three priorities of the last 15 months of his presidential mandate.

Questioned by a panel of ordinary people on TF1’s Paroles de Français, the president acknowledged some of the errors of his presidency, such as the recent scandal over ministers’ holidays being paid for by foreign governments.

He said he wanted to find better solutions to youth delinquency, recidivism and “hyperviolence”, and hoped to have a wide-ranging political debate on the issue before taking action by summer.

On the issue of justice, he said he wanted to press on with plans to use juries in the tribunaux correctionnels to judge crimes of medium severity (at present, juries are used only for crimes such as murder and rape).

He announced an extra 5,000 prison places on top of an existing plan to increase capacity by 40 per cent by 2018.

Mr Sarkozy said 500 million euros was being allocated to find solutions to long-term unemployment. These included creating more favourable conditions for the status of apprentices, for example in access to housing, and building dozens of apprenticeship centres. However economies would have to be found from other ministries.

Regarding dependency in old age, the president said a fifth branch of social security, specifically for this problem, will be created by the summer. However it is still not clear how this will be funded, whether, for example, by increased social charges, a new form of insurance or deductions from the inheritance of people who did not help elderly relatives.

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