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France's Hollande says won't run in 2017 election if unemployment hasn't fallen

French President Francois Hollande gestures as he answers a question during a news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris February 5, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that he would not stand for a second term in 2017 if unemployment has not fallen by then, adding that his government would carry out fresh reforms to boost the economy.

“We will continue right to the end, I have even said that I will be judged on that, because if after five years, a President cannot meet the objective that he had when he got elected, he cannot be once more a candidate for the highest office in the country,” he told a news conference.

Record-high unemployment started dragging Hollande’s popularity down only a few month after his election in May 2012.

Hollande told the news conference that fresh reforms would also aim to help businesses improve their competitiveness.

“France can only preserve its cohesion, its (world) ranking and act in Europe if its economy is strong,” he said. “We must be bold, show initiative.”

“We will go even further for youth unemployment, (for) long-term unemployed people, to boost the performance of our businesses and help financing the economy.”

As Hollande was making these pledges in Paris, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Pierre Moscovici told a separate news conference in Brussels that France needs to cut its structural deficit this year by more than currently expected to comply with EU budget rules.

Hollande said France had made progress on its public deficit but that it was still too high. “We will continue reforms, as long as our (five-year) mandate lasts, we will continue,” he said.

Reporting by Ingrid Melander and Jean-Baptiste Vey; Editing by Andrew Callus