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'France is pro-business' PM Valls tells London audience

David Cameron and Manuel Valls in London on 6 October, 2014
David Cameron and Manuel Valls in London on 6 October, 2014 Reuters/Andrew Winning

“My government is pro-business”, French prime minister Manuel Valls declared in English to an audience in the financial district of London on Monday.

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Valls is currently touring European capitals to persuade EU partners that France is engaged in a serious programme of reforms.

In Germany recently, his message was that France would cut public spending while in Britain his key priority was to encourage investors and reassure financial markets that the French economy was on the road to recovery.

“My message is simple: France is moving, it is changing” he said, challenging what he called the cliché that France was incapable of reform.

He explained his government’s plan to cut spending by 50 billion euros and remove payroll taxes for small businesses.

After a presidential election campaign in which one of his most famous lines was “My enemy is the world of finance” and having introduced the 75% tax for those with very high incomes, in January President François Hollande openly embraced a more pro-business approach.

He appointed Valls, who is on the right of the Socialist party, to run a government whose priority is to cut unemployment. The 75% tax was only ever intended to be a temporary measure and it will no longer be applied after 1st January 2015.

Relations have improved between London and Paris since 2012, when British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain would "roll out the red carpet" for French executives fleeing higher taxes following Hollande’s election.

It’s estimated that there are indeed more than 350,000 French people living in London, though for many different reasons. On Sunday, Valls met many among the French business community based in London.

But back home in France, the pro business message from Valls will annoy the band of rebel Socialist MPs who say the government has abandoned its Socialist promises in a bid to curry favour with business people.

 

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