French leader to CEOs: Invest more to get tax cut

French President Francois Hollande, left, shakes hand with French employer's body MEDEF union leader Pierre Gattaz at the end of a New Year ceremony for employment sector representatives at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. French President Francois Hollande warned companies that they have to hire large numbers of French workers, especially the young and old, if they want to benefit from a promised 30-billion-euro cut in payroll taxes. Hollande is counting on his so-called “responsibility pact” to revive growth in the stagnant economy and reduce nearly 11 percent unemployment. (AP Photo/Philippe Wojazer, Pool)

PARIS (AP) — French President Francois Hollande is telling top companies that they have to promise to hire more workers and invest more if they want to benefit from a promised cut in payroll taxes.

Companies in France pay the highest payroll taxes in Europe. A promised 30 billion-euro ($41 billion) payroll tax cut is a centerpiece of Hollande's new bid to keep the economy from sliding back into recession and bring down nearly 11 percent unemployment.

In a speech Tuesday to French CEOs, Hollande said companies have to promise to hire a fixed number of workers in exchange. He said it's up to unions and employers to decide how many.

He also said "companies must commit to investing more in France and moving jobs back" to France from cheaper sites abroad.