Business

Euro crisis is over, says France's Francois Hollande

Hollande
Image caption The French president said the crisis had "strengthened" the 17-nation bloc

French President Francois Hollande has declared an end to the eurozone debt crisis, which has gripped the region for the past four years.

"What you need to understand here in Japan is that the crisis in Europe is over," he told Japanese business leaders on a trip to the Far East.

Much of Europe is suffering from high unemployment and recession.

As recently as April, there were fears about the future of the euro due to confusion over bailing out Cyprus.

The tiny eurozone state secured a loan package worth 10bn euros (£8.4bn; $13bn) from its EU partners and the International Monetary Fund.

An early proposal to raise money through a levy on all Cypriot bank deposits caused concern in financial markets and was quickly withdrawn. Instead, the island agreed to raise 13bn euros through a tax on large deposits and through banking reform.

This came after bailouts of Greece - twice - as well as Ireland, Portugal, and a bailout of Spain's banks.

Unemployment in the eurozone is at another record high - with 19.38 million out work - and the bloc is in its longest recession since it was created in 1999, now in six consecutive quarters of shrinkage.

Hollande

In a speech on the last day of his visit to Japan, the French president said that the debt crisis has served to bolster Europe.

"I believe that the crisis, far from weakening the eurozone, will strengthen it," he said. "Now, we have all the instruments of stability and solidarity. There was an improvement in the economic governance of the eurozone, we set up a banking union, we have rules on budgetary matters that allow us to be better coordinated and have a form of convergence."

He has pledged to boost jobs and growth at home, but domestic demand has been sapped by the eurozone crisis.

The French jobless rate this month climbed to the highest level in 15 years.

Recently, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund called on France to introduce more economic reforms or else risk lagging behind some of its European neighbours.