French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici has made a plea for Berlin to accept that Paris needs more time to cut its high public deficit. The minister said that Germany needed "a strong France" with an emphasis on growth.
Moscovici said on Thursday that Germany would have to understand that France could not trim its budget too quickly without jeopardizing the country's chance of recovery.
If Paris were forced to cut below the EU limit of 3 percent this year, said Moscovici (pictured right), "we would put the country into a recession."
"That would mean that many more unemployed youths, more unemployment," the minister told a press conference in Strasbourg, close to the border, at an event to mark Franco-German cooperation in Europe.
"I need Germany to understand this," he said.
The minister said that he knew his German counterpart, Wolfgang Schäuble (left), who was also present, did understand because "Germany needs a strong France."
Schäuble dismissed the notion that growth and austerity were incompatible.
"We need to stop this debate which says you have to choose between austerity and growth," Schäuble said, adding that growth was "indispensable."
French President Francois Hollande has been keen to try to reverse the rising trend in unemployment and has repeatedly urged Germany's European partners to shift at least some the emphasis in their economic policies from austerity to growth.
Paris has acknowledged that it may not achieve its growth target of 0.8 percent this year, with some analysts voicing doubt about whether the French economy will register any growth at all.
rc/kms (AP, Reuters)