Europe News

Hollande suffers further blow as French unemployment worsens

French unemployment hit a record high of 3.3 million in December, in a further blow to the economic policies of Socialist President Francois Hollande.

The number of people who were fully unemployed rose by 10,200 or 0.3 percent in December, according to the French labor ministry. For 2013 as whole, unemployment rose by 5.7 percent.

"Even though over recent months the pace of labor market deterioration has halved from year-ago levels, it has failed, to stabilize despite the government's efforts to reverse the negative trend in the labor market," said Fabrice Montagne, an economist at Barclays Research in an evening note.

Francois Hollande, France's president speaks to the media as he arrives for the European Leaders summit at the European Council headquarters in Brussels,
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The figures come at an unfortunate time for Hollande, who campaigned on a pledge to cut France's unemployment levels. The French government is expected to start negotiations Tuesday for his flagship "responsibility pact".

(Read more: France: We're not a failed socialist experiment)

The pact, announced by Hollande earlier this month, aims at cutting unemployment and increasing competitiveness by lowering France's high labor costs. Keys measures to be discussed include the scrapping of family contributions worth 30 billion euros ($41 billion), further spending reductions worth 50 billion euros between 2015 and 2017, fiscal reform and administrative simplification.

As well as attempting to rejuvenate the economy, Hollande is also battling very low popularity ratings and media speculation over his private life. The president confirmed his breakup with long-term partner Valerie Trierweiler on Saturday, following reports of an affair with a French actress.

Do people really hate the French?

—By CNBC's Katy Barnato. Follow her on Twitter: @KatyBarnato