French dismiss magazine’s claims of being timebomb at heart of Europe

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FRENCH officials angrily rejected a charge by Britain’s The Economist newspaper yesterday that France was the “time-bomb at the heart of Europe” and a danger to the euro single currency, accusing the magazine of sensationalism.

The Economist’s front cover showed seven loafs of ‘baguette’ bread bound together by a French tricolour with a lit fuse protruding from the centre.

Its main article raised concerns that Socialist President Francois Hollande’s economic reforms are not ambitious enough, warning that financial markets could turn against France, and so could jeopardise the future of the euro.

The French government retorted that The Economist report did not take into account corporate tax rebates unveiled last week which amount to a 6 per cent reduction in labour costs, a measure it believes will add jobs and help to reduce a ballooning trade deficit.

Public spending cuts announced in that package, along with existing budget measures, should add up to 60 billion euros in savings over Hollande’s five-year term, the government says, an effort The Economist has not factored in.

“Their analysis is outdated, it’s not accurate anymore,” said Thomas Philippon, an adviser to Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici.