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Macron's economic mountain

Monday, May 08, 2017 - 01:49

After a decade of slow growth, rising unemployment and dwindling competitiveness, France elected a president on Sunday who says he has a plan to pull the country out of its economic malaise. But as Emmanuel Macron gets set to enter the Elysee Palace the 39-year-old former economy minister faces daughtng obstacles. Sonia Legg reports.

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A tenth of the workforce doesn't have a job - that's a big problem for France and its soon-to-be president Emmanuel Macron. The French economy is showing signs of improvement but it's after a decade of slow growth. (SOUNDBITE) (English) VICKY PRYCE, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, CEBR, SAYING: "France is still suffering from quite high unemployment and quite high wage costs for businesses and that is one of the issues that he has said continuously he is going to address." It won't be easy. The former economy minister quit the government of Francois Hollande out of frustration not once but twice. (SOUNDBITE) (German) ROBERT HALVER, HEAD OF CAPITAL ANALYSIS AT BAADER BANK, SAYING: "Macron has a lot to do - France is very sick. You can't just apply makeup to the face of the French economy. A serious brain and heart operation is required." French workers have been reluctant to give up their 35 hour working week or accept an increase to the retirement age of 62. Macron's approach is to allow firms to negotiate their own deals. He also wants to reduce the size of the French state and cut corporation tax - but do it gradually. He has one fan already - and she's willing to help (SOUNDBITE) (German) ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR, SAYING: "I would like to help France lower its unemployment rate and to increase the chances of young people finding jobs. We will talk together about how we do this." France's also needs to mend its divided society. One recent survey suggests one on five voters identify with the extreme right or left, compared with 7 percent in the EU as a whole. And just a third see themselves as centrists - versus two thirds across the bloc. But Macron's victory was at least emphatic - that should give the youngest French leader since Napoleon a fighting chance.

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Macron's economic mountain

Monday, May 08, 2017 - 01:49