Schaeuble says France's Hollande 'right' on reforms

26th May 2016, Comments 0 comments

Germany's finance minister Thursday voiced backing for the French government's labour reforms that have sparked crippling strikes, saying France was capable of withstanding such social opposition.

"France is obviously not unreformable," Wolfgang Schaeuble told journalists, adding that President Francois Hollande "is right" to champion the reforms.

He shrugged off the impact of the strikes that have paralysed Europe's second biggest economy, saying "France can live with such disputes".

"Labour market reforms would also spark such protests in Germany. That's an expression of a democracy," he said.

The French government's labour market proposals, which are designed to make it easier for companies to hire and fire, have sparked a series of nationwide protests and strikes over the past three months.

Workers at nuclear power stations were the latest to join the walkout Thursday, upping the ante after a prolonged blockade of oil refineries and depots by unionists severely disrupted fuel supplies.

Germany has been pushing European partners to carry out reforms and make their economies more competitive.

Under former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Europe's biggest economy itself had in 2005 undertaken painful reforms, including slashing welfare payments and easing rigid labour regulations.

Economists have since credited the so-called Agenda 2010 for driving Germany's economic revival.

© 2016 AFP

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