Hollande Wins Praise From German Industry for Economic Pact Plan

Germany’s BDI business lobby praised French President Francois Hollande’s proposal for a pact between business and labor unions to revive growth and lower joblessness.

“A very important step has been made with the president’s recent announcements,” Ulrich Grillo, head of the BDI industry federation that represents about 100,000 companies, said in Paris today at a joint press conference with Pierre Gattaz, head of France’s Medef business lobby.

The remarks offer support for Hollande as he grapples with a slide in competitiveness similar to the one then-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is credited with reversing a decade ago in Germany. France’s Socialist president said Jan. 14 that he wants business groups and unions to agree to trim payroll charges by 10 billion euros ($13 billion) by 2017 and to boost hiring.

Grillo, who is due to meet with Hollande at the Elysee Palace later today, said that bringing together both business and labor is key to the success of any plan.

“It was very difficult at first, but it’s very important that all the parties are on board,” Grillo said. “Don’t forget that in 2003 and 2004 Germany was considered the sick man of Europe. But we took decisive steps. If France does the same, I’m sure it can change” its situation.

The talks with unions need to address the broad economic situation, said Gattaz.

“If we do all this for just 10 billion euros by 2017, we’ll be dead,” Gattaz said. “We need to move from words to action. The French train is being put back on the right track, now it needs to move.”

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