Hollande praises Germany's labour reforms
French President Francois Hollande, under pressure to reform his recession-hit economy, Thursday praised German social welfare and labour reforms implemented under former centre-left chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
The Socialist French leader was speaking at the German opposition Social Democratic Party's 150th anniversary in the eastern city of Leipzig, where conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel was among the guests.
"Progress also means making courageous choices in difficult times to save jobs and anticipate industry changes, and that's what Gerhard Schroeder did here in Germany and which allowed your country to move ahead of others," he said.
"These decisions aren't easy to take, they can spark controversy, but nothing is built, nothing solid is built by ignoring reality," Hollande said.
Hollande, a Socialist, is under pressure from voices on the left of the French Socialist party which are strongly critical of the influence exercised by Germany on economic policy in the European Union and indirectly on France.
Schroeder's former SPD-Greens coalition government began implementing the tough labour and welfare reforms, dubbed Agenda 2010, a decade ago. They included tax cuts and reduced jobless, pension and medical benefits.
The reforms are credited with keeping Europe's largest economy, which booked 0.1 percent growth in the first quarter, competitive but have also been blamed for widening the wealth gap and creating a new group of "working poor".
© 2013 AFP