Transforming France's Economy and Completing the Integration of the Eurozone

Paris, France

February 15, 2018

The French Treasury and the IMF co-hosted a conference on “Transforming France’s Economy and Completing the Integration of the Eurozone” on Thursday February 15, 2018 in Paris. The conference provided an opportunity to discuss France’s economic reform agenda and options for strengthening the economic architecture of the Eurozone. It brought together around 200 French and European participants, including policymakers, representatives from EU institutions, academia, think tanks, the private sector, social partners, civil society, and the media. IMF Managing Director Lagarde, France’s Finance Minister Le Maire, and other leading economists and policymakers spoke at the conference.



A stronger Eurozone — which policies and reforms are needed?

A conversation between Bruno Le Maire (France) and Christine Lagarde (IMF)

Moderator: Martin Sandbu (Financial Times)

Webcast available in French and English


The structural reform challenge

  • Why has unemployment in France been so persistent? How large is the untapped labor market potential?
  • Does France have a growth problem? What factors constrain productivity and competitiveness?
  • What policies and reforms would be most effective in boosting employment and potential growth?
  • What lessons can be learnt from other countries?

Isabelle de Silva (Autorité de la concurrence)

Stefano Scarpetta (OECD)

Philippe Martin (Sciences Po University)

Moderator: Michel Houdebine (DG Trésor)


Coffee break


Wages in France and the Eurozone

  • What is the appropriate pace of wage growth in France? How does this relate to the Eurozone’s inflation target on the one hand and France’s goals of reducing unemployment and regaining external competitiveness on the other?
  • What can and should Eurozone governments do to influence the wage setting process (e.g., minimum wage policies, public sector wages, public communication)?

Peter Praet (ECB)

Xavier Ragot (Observatoire Français des Conjonctures Économiques)

Olivier Blanchard (Peterson Institute)

Moderator: Selma Mahfouz (DARES)


Lunch break


The fiscal conundrum—consolidation versus growth and social objectives

  • With the recovery strengthening, what is the right pace of fiscal consolidation for countries with elevated debt and deficits?
  • What should be the sequencing of tax relief on capital and labor relative to spending cuts and budget consolidation?
  • How can France reduce public spending while limiting the impact on growth and social protection?
  • What has been the experience of countries that have reduced the size of the public sector?

Lucio Pench (European Commission)

Urban Hansson (National Institute of Economic Research, Sweden)

Agnès Bénassy-Quéré (Conseil d’Analyse Économique)

Moderator: Enrica Detragiache (IMF)


Coffee break


Eurozone governance

  • Is the Eurozone sustainable under the status quo? What is the role for national policies and the scope for potential reforms of the institutional set-up ?
  • What is the interplay between (i) European rules and recommendations, (ii) a potential central fiscal capacity, (iii)banking union, and (iv) crisis management mechanisms?
  • What are the reform options and trade-offs?

Odile Renaud-Basso (DG Trésor, France)

Poul Thomsen (IMF)

Ludger Schuknecht (Ministry of Finance, Germany)

Andre Sapir (Bruegel)

Moderator: Martin Sandbu (Financial Times)


Closing remarks by Odile Renaud-Basso and Poul Thomsen