PARIS (Reuters) - France must take action to cut the deficit in its unemployment benefit system to "reasonable levels", Labour Minister Michel Sapin said on Wednesday.
Sapin's comments followed publication of a report that said the deficit was likely to hit 5 billion euros this year.
"Measures will have to be taken," Sapin said, adding it was nonetheless "natural that the system is in deficit in a period of high unemployment".
He said labour unions and employers would have to negotiate and come up with deficit-shrinking solutions.
"The social partners are going to have to hold talks that can bring the deficit back to a reasonable level," Sapin said in an interview with French radio station RTL.
France's state audit office called on Tuesday for a review of jobless benefits, saying in a 170-page report that they cost the debt-laden state too much and should be adjusted to focus on those most in need, given persistently high unemployment.
(Reporting by Brian Love; Editing by Catherine Evans)
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