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Catherine Mathieu and Henri Sterdyniak

In early 2013, the French economy, like many other EU economies, faces tough challenges. French GDP is 9 per cent below the level it would have reached had it continued to grow at its pre-crisis trend. France has committed to cut the public deficit to 3 per cent in 2013 and 0 per cent in 2017 which would imply dramatic public spending cuts and fiscal tightening, reducing GDP growth even further. France has to choose between strengthening its specificity, its social model and its State-interventionist tradition, and imitating the best pupils of globalization in the world or in Europe by implementing liberal or social-liberal strategies. The paper deals with the French government strategy since the 2012 presidential elections and tries to assess its chances of success. In many areas – fiscal strategy, social issues, banking and industrial policies – there is a significant risk that the announced proactive strategy will be replaced by policies accepting the constraints imposed by European institutions and financial markets.

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Catherine Mathieu and Henri Sterdyniak

Since the launch of the euro, persistent and even rising disparities among member states have made it difficult to implement short-term or structural common economic policies. The article gives an overview of Euro area disparities in terms of growth and inflation and imbalances, mainly unemployment and current accounts. Four explanations are considered: the benefits of the single currency for catching-up countries, the weaknesses of the Euro area economic policy framework; the implementation of non-cooperative domestic policies which have induced excessive competition and insufficient coordination and hurt mainly the larger economies; and the crisis of the European continental model in a global world. Four strategies are discussed: increasing market flexibility; moving towards the knowledge society of the Lisbon Agenda; re-nationalising economic policies; and introducing a more growth-oriented policy framework.