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Sinking French economy ‘afloat’: Finance Minister

Sinking French ship 'afloat': Fin Min

France was a ship at risk of sinking, the country's new finance minister told CNBC, adding that the country is now afloat but needs to speed up its engine to drive growth.

Michel Sapin, who took over from Pierre Moscovici following a recent reshuffle of President Francois Hollande's cabinet, said for two years France had been "filling the breaches".

Without those measures, "the ship would have sunk", he said. Sapin has said France will stick to its targets for deficit reduction; Hollande has promised 50 billion euros in savings over the next three years.

France saw sluggish growth of just 0.3 percent in 2013. In 2012 it recorded no growth.

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The country's deficit has been stubbornly hovering around 4 percent – higher than the European Union limit of 3 percent. The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, gave France two extra years to reduce the deficit on condition it stuck to labor market reforms.

Sapin stressed the new government, put in place following heavy losses for Hollande's socialist party in local elections, was also committed to reducing costs for businesses.

He added that the reshuffled government was "determined" to speed up reforms.

"After every year we will judge the results, and those willbe the results which will determine whether we've been successful or not," he said.

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