• Eurozone employment plan gets finetuning

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    PARIS: Europe’s two biggest economies, France and Germany, will on Tuesday finetune a new plan to fight spiraling youth joblessness, which has topped 50 percent in many countries of the crisis-ravaged eurozone.

    The broad outlines could emerge after French President Francois Hollande holds talks with the German and French finance ministers Wolfgang Schaeuble and Pierre Moscovici.

    The French and German labor ministers Michel Sapin and Ursula von der Leyen will also attend the Paris meeting.

    Hollande on Tuesday called for an “offensive” saying: “We have to act immediately, six million youths are jobless in Europe” and “nearly 14 million are without work, not studying and are not apprentices.”

    “European institutions, the heads of state and government, France and Germany” agree that an action plan has to be implemented to combat soaring youth joblessness, he said, adding that it must be done on a war-footing.

    Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have taken divergent stands on tackling the crisis. The French leader has urged less austerity while Merkel is pushing for cutting debt and bringing in labor market changes to create employment.

    Hollande, who is under pressure to reform his recession-hit economy, is also facing the heat from the left wing of his Socialist party, which is strongly critical of Germany’s influence on economic policy in the European Union (EU), and indirectly on France.

    Hollande last week said that France and Germany were working on a joint economic initiative to put to their EU partners at a June summit set to focus on boosting growth and jobs.

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