TALLINN: French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire firmly defended France’s pro-business reforms to eurozone ministers on Friday that he said would put France back on track in Europe.
In unusually candid language, and speaking in English, Le Maire said “France is back” and will be stronger in Europe thanks to tough reforms that were met with protests in Paris and other cities earlier this week.
The reforms are widely interpreted in EU circles as the a condition set by powerful Germany for further integration of the eurozone, a wish of French President Emmanuel Macron.
Le Maire is also rumoured as a possible successor to Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem to head the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers.
“We are taking very important decisions now in France,” Le Maire told reporters as he arrived for talks with his eurozone counterparts in Tallinn, Estonia.
“We are cutting in public spending, we are putting in reforms on the labour market which are probably the most important labour market reforms in France since a lot of years,” he added.
Le Maire stressed a mooted corporate tax cut and the scrapping of a wealth tax “which is something totally new in France”.
In the first major demonstrations opposed to Macron’s pro-business agenda, over 220,000 protesters marched against the reforms in 180 demonstrations around France on Tuesday. The turnout was considered lower than hoped by trade union organisers.