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G-8 Members Share France’s Focus On Economic Growth

By Gabriele Parussini, CHICAGO (Dow Jones)–French President Francois Hollande said Saturday he had played a key role in putting growth at the centre of the debate at a Group of Eight industrialized countries meeting, as he pledged to push it on center stage in upcoming international summits.

“In the name of France, I wanted to put growth at the hearth of the debates, and make sure that growth, as well as budgetary discipline, could find its place in all meetings, at the G-8, at the European council, and at the G-20,” Hollande told a press conference at Camp David, Md.

“At the G-8 this will of boosting growth … has been shared,” he said.

Hollande, who was inaugurated on May 15, is dealing with a busy international agenda, with the pressing need to convince some of his peers–notably German Chancellor Angela Merkel–to compromise on the need for budget austerity and find ways to stimulate the euro zone’s flagging economy.

After the G-8 meeting, Hollande will gather with other European Union leaders on May 23 in Brussels, at a time when Greece’s political instability is roiling the markets and making many fear the country may be forced to leave the euro zone.

In June, he will fly to Los Cabos, Mexico, for a G-20 summit.

The leaders of the eight leading industrialized economies said they backed Greece’s permanence in the euro zone, but Hollande reiterated his concern about Greece’s unresolved political crisis. Greeks head back to polling stations in mid-June, after the country’s political parties failed to reach an agreement to form a governing coalition.

“As much as we have hailed the efforts that have been made in the past months by all countries to straighten their public finances, uncertainty remains in Greece for the June 17 elections,” Hollande said.

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