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Creating jobs is Hollande’s No1 aim

President tells suburban youngsters France is a country where they have ‘an opportunity and a future’

PRESIDENT Hollande has announced new moves to tackle unemployment with plans to extend the government’s €4billion back-to-work programme by opening it up to under-25s and giving employers a social-charges exemption for hiring apprentices.

The moves, announced on Canal + in a two-hour news programme, aim to give a route to work for two million under-25s without jobs and without any qualifications or skills training.

Mr Hollande said the prime d’activité, a monthly bonus paid to people earning under €1,400 or those in part-time work, would be opened up to under-25s to “make work more attractive and help get people escape vulnerability”.

He told young people from Paris suburbs who were questioning him on the programme that, “despite a few problems to resolve” France offered young people “an opportunity and a future”.

Continuing on the jobs theme, he said he wanted to give companies more confidence in CDI permanent work contracts by changing the way the prud’hommes works councils operate. They would have shorter deadlines for decisions on pay-offs and payments would be limited so companies would know that creating CDIs would not mean unlimited costs if the project failed.

Speaking in advance of the three-year anniversary of his election win, Mr Hollande also announced that the new surveillance law targeting terrorism would be sent to the Conseil Constitutionnel constitutional court for review. The law has been attacked by both right and left but he said it was necessary to protect France.

Later, facing the young people’s questions about secularism, the Holocaust and the place of religion in France, he said people here were “free to make fun of religion but not to turn that into to a call for hatred”.

And he attacked the Front National for its closed view of France and blamed its rise on the slow pace of parliament where it took “six months or a year” to vote a law that promised to open up the economy and give people hope.

But he admitted being unsure about his prospects for re-election in 2017 saying he was dedicating his life to getting France back to work, not into being elected again.

And, asked about the revelations on his personal life and girlfriend Julie Gayet in Closer magazine, he said he did not want to say anything: “This type of news affects me, but I am saying nothing.”

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