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U.S. Business Mavens Question French 'Revolution'

Market reforms top the agenda of France’s new conservative President, Nicolas Sarkozy. Will it be good for the French economy -- and for U.S. business? Julianne Smith, Europe program director and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and John Levy, Europe and Eurasia analyst at the Eurasia Group, shared insights on “Power Lunch.”

“He has a pretty ambitious agenda to chip away at unemployment, and put into place a whole host of economic reforms,” Smith said. And a strong France is a good thing for the U.S., she explained: “We want a France that’s competitive, that doesn’t have high levels of unemployment, can stand on its own two feet,” she said.

Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, is also expected to curb immigration. Smith said the new president would face tough questions: “Should the doors be wide open, should people be able to come in indefinitely?” She said the U.S. will likely work with France to combat Islamic radicalization.

Levy, however, predicts a fair degree of continuity: “This is not a new party, it’s more of a new personality that’s come into government,” he said. “It may not be as significant a break with the Chirac government as others might be expecting.”

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