At Conference, French Business Leaders Attack Government Over Taxes, Overbearing State

"Laissez faire" is French, after all


French business leaders had a message for President Francois Hollande this weekend: Put your own house in order and leave us alone.

They clashed with Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici at a conference in Aix-en-Provence, in southern France, accusing the government of over-taxing business and zigzagging on economic policies, a charge the minister called "inelegant" and "facile." Business leaders called on Hollande to halt what they said were constant changes in regulations and urged him to focus on shrinking state spending before elections constrain his ability to push through difficult and unpopular policy measures.

"In France, the real problem is the state," said Christophe de Margerie, chief executive officer of Total SA. "The state must obviously cut public spending and put business back at the heart of the preoccupation of the French. It should mind its own business rather than tell us what to do."