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Hollande favours flexible reform

Thursday, September 18, 2014 - 02:17

Two days after his government narrowly won a confidence vote, President Hollande is facing the media. As David Pollard reports, his personal poll rating is now so low investors need convincing he can deliver the promised reforms.

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An emergency reshuffle, record unemployment and sinking poll ratings - perhaps not the best time for a president to face the press. But that's exactly what Francois Hollande did at a rare but scheduled news conference. Despite his unpopularity, he's consistently refused to consider stepping down. Instead, pledging economic reform - but at the same time saying he would call on the EU for more flexibility in how deficit rules are applied. SOUNDBITE (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT, FRANCOIS HOLLANDE: ''We must reform, be more competitive, know how to engage in a true social dialogue as we have done, be capable of changing a certain number of regulations while preserving our social model - but at the same time adapting the path of the deficit.'' Compounding his recent problems: revelations from former partner Valerie Trierweiler about their troubled relationship ... .... and a high-profile strike by pilots at the national flag carrier over cost cuts and the type of restructuring which France has been slow to embrace. Rob Wood is an economist with Berenberg. SOUNDBITE (English) ROB WOOD, ECONOMIST, BERENBERG: ''It is the only country that seriously needs to reform that hasn't even really begun the process of doing so. So its economy is continuing to lag behind the euro zone and some of the countries that have reformed, for instance Spain. So absolutely, yes, investors are worried about France.'' Reform involves a long 'to do' list, says Henk Potts of Barclays. SOUNDBITE (English) HENK POTTS, ECONOMIST, BARCLAYS: ''They've done very little to deal with the power of the unions. They've done very little to deal with the pensions crisis, to deal with the ineffective and inefficient public service sector. And they are problems that will continue to haunt France in future years in terms of them being competitive.'' The government's narrow victory in a parliamentary confidence vote this week may offer the reformists some hope. Prime minister Manuel Valls steered a careful line between placating his Socialist Party - while pushing for a moderate pro-business agenda. Hollande has served the first half of his five-year term as president. Perhaps now hoping his government's victory will just be enough to get him through the second half.

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Hollande favours flexible reform

Thursday, September 18, 2014 - 02:17