France urges cooling of austerity, focus on growth

Mar 07, 2013, 4:35 AM EST
(REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen)

BRUSSELS (AP) — France's finance minister says Europe must focus more on promoting growth and less on tightening budgets to revive the bloc's sluggish economy and avoid a deepening social crisis.

Pierre Moscovici warned Thursday in Brussels that continuing on a strict austerity course would only "nourish a social crisis that leads to populism."

Austerity cuts made to cope with a debt crisis in the 17-nation eurozone have helped push the region into recession and increased unemployment to record highs. Voters in several crisis-hit nations have protested such EU-led austerity by supporting euroskeptic parties, most recently in Italy.

Moscovici acknowledged France will miss its deficit reduction target this year as the economy is expected to stall but still aims at limiting it to less than 3 percent of economic output next year.