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Bruno Grandjean - Président du directoire de REDEX
Wall Street Journal
Paris | 15 janvier 2014

PARIS - French President François Hollande won support Wednesday from key European allies for his proposal to cut public spending to fund corporate tax cuts, even as businesses at home were cautious.

"What the French president revealed yesterday is courageous," said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in a statement.

In a lengthy news conference Tuesday, Mr. Hollande said France had to produce more, and more efficiently. He held out multiple olive branches to business, saying he can't win his battle against unemployment without them and promised to relieve firms of a €30 billion to €35 billion burden of financing family welfare.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, welcomed the focus on spending cuts rather than taxation and said Mr. Hollande's plan should reap economic benefits.


"We all have an interest that France's economic strength increases again and that France is turning into an engine for the European economy," said Mr. Steinmeier, who was one of the architects of Germany's reforms under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.


"What I heard from the president yesterday goes in the right direction. We'll see how it is implemented," said Christophe de Margerie, chief executive of French oil major Total SA.


"The electroshock from his speech is salutary. But it needs to be transformed into a real electroshock to our competitiveness," said Pierre Gattaz, who heads France's main business lobby Medef.

Based on the spirit of Mr. Hollande's message, Bruno Grandjean, chief executive of 300-strong mechanical engineering firm Redex, said the he is ready to accelerate investment to catch up on ground lost to German and Italian peers. But he warned that the Mr. Hollande must follow through.

"There is nothing worse than an empty announcement," he said. "It would be a cold shower for us and would risk provoking a downward spiral for business."

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