France

New French government to be business-friendly, Valls

France's newly-named Prime Minister Manuel Valls (L) shakes hands with President François Hollande after deciding on the make-up of his cabinet
France's newly-named Prime Minister Manuel Valls (L) shakes hands with President François Hollande after deciding on the make-up of his cabinet Reuters

France's new government will be business-friendly, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said last night after announcing a cabinet drawn from the left and the right of his Socialist Party. Recognising that unemployment had sapped the morale of the party's voters in last weekend's local elections, he said that the solution was to encourage investment.

Advertising

The Green party, EELV, has pulled out of the government because it judges Valls too right-wing and the hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon has called a demonstration against the new government on 12 April.

But in a TV interview Wednesday evening Valls inisisted he has "a deep commitment to the left".

"I am aware of how much people suffer," he told the TF1 TV channel. "You know, when you meet a man or a woman who tells you that they don't have enough money to buy a piece of steak, a holiday or even a night out, it hits you. I have a deep commitment to the left."

Although he has included members of the Socialist Party left wing in his cabinet, Valls went on to insist that the way to end joblessness was to help entrepreneurs.

"So all the government's actions must be geared towards those men and women who suffer and fear unemployment, and those actions are in support of business, attractiveness and competitiveness precisely to create the wealth we need to release energy and create employment," he said.

The Valls government will have to implement President François Hollande's Responsibility Pact, which is to save employers 50 billion euros in social security contributions in the hope of creating jobs.

Parliamentary elections 2012

France is going through an "identity crisis", Valls said and he appealed to MPs from the right-wing opposition to help tackle the country's problems.

"Together we must respond not only to the economic crisis but also to the crisis of confidence that was illustrated by mass abstention in the municipal elections," he told TF1. "We are going through an identity crisis. Many French people are asking where France is heading, what its weight is in Europe and in the world. We must restore confidence."

With 16 ministers, Valls's government is small by French standards, although he will add junior ministers to the team next week.

It also observes stright gender parity, with eight men and eight women.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning