PARIS, April 10, 2006 (AFP) — French President Jacques Chirac scrapped his government's hotly contested youth jobs scheme Monday, handing a major victory to unions and students after one of the country's biggest political crises in decades.
Chirac announced after a high-level meeting that the youth contract, which would have made it easier to fire young workers, would be "replaced" with new measures to help disadvantaged young people into work.
It was hailed as a major victory by French union leaders, who had mobilised millions of people in a sometimes violent two-month street campaign against a measure they said only increased job insecurity.
The decision is a serious blow to Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin who had championed the scheme as a cornerstone of efforts to fight unemployment.
Villepin — whose approval ratings are at an all-time low, his chances for next year's presidential election all but destroyed — confirmed the decision in a brief televised address.
And surrender has consequences:
PARIS, April 10, 2006 (AFP) - French industrial production data showed a slump on Monday leading economists to wonder if France is being left behind by global recovery because of problems over reform, the labour market and competitiveness.
The data, published shortly before the centre-right government dropped controversial reform of the labour market, showed tha
....Some analysts commented that the overall picture gave cause for concern about foreign investment in France and the competitiveness of French industrial goods.
....economist Marc Touati at Natexis Banques Populaires referred to the crisis over a plan to relax job protection for young people, called the CPE. He commented:
"Even before the negative effects of the CPE crisis on activity, the trend of industrial production in February presented already the picture of the current state of the French economy.
..."In addition, with the refusal of the CPE and the confirmation that France is incapable of reforming itself, more and more companies are going to continue or begin investing and employing people massively, abroad.
...."It has to be said that, given recent events in France, foreign companies would really have to have turned altruistic to invest heavily in France."