Fledgling French cabinet orders pay cut for ministers | News | DW | 17.05.2012
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Fledgling French cabinet orders pay cut for ministers

In their inaugural meeting France's Socialist Cabinet have taken a 30-percent pay cut. The symbolic gesture came amid renewed calls from the newly appointed finance minister for amendments to the European fiscal pact.

French President Francois Hollande and his Socialist government agreed to take a 30-percent pay cut on Thursday as they held their first weekly Cabinet meeting.

According to spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the move was designed to "set an example," as the government looks to reduce public debt while sticking to an election promise not to touch France's social welfare system.

French President Francois Hollande, center, poses with his ministers after the first weekly cabinet meeting

The 34-minister government is the first in France's history to include an equal number of men and women

The gesture of shared sacrifice also served as an attempt by the new government to differentiate themselves from former President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservatives. Sarkozy notoriously increased his gross salary by 170 percent to 21,300 euros ($27,000) per month after he took office in 2007.

Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will now take home 14,910 euros per month. The ministers' gross salaries, meanwhile, have dropped from 14,200 to 9,940 euros.

Treaty renegotiation appeal

In a further indication of a shift in France's economic policy strategy, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici reaffirmed the government's plans to push for amendments to the European fiscal pact.

The hard-won treaty, negotiated in part by France's previous government, calls for stringent budgetary discipline in EU counties - threatening offenders with sanctions. Reiterating comments made by Hollande in previous weeks, Moscovici stipulated that Paris would not sanction the pact unless it include measures for boosting growth.

"The treaty will not be ratified as is. It must be added to, completed with a growth amendment," Moscovici said.

Hollande, who was elected on May 6, has warned that the treaty focuses too much on spending cuts that are stifling growth and worsening the debt crisis which has seen France's unemployment reach 10 percent.

The new president is scheduled to hold a conference call Thursday evening with the leaders of Germany, Britain, Italy and the European Union to discuss Europe's economic strategy. The following morning Hollande will travel to the United States for the start of a series of major international meetings, including a Group of Eight summit which kicks off on Friday.

ccp/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)