The Bank of France’s monthly report forecasts growth of 0.4 percent in the last three months of the year, up from an anaemic 0.1 percent in the third quarter. That still makes for a fairly doleful 2013 as a whole.

France is zooming up the euro zone’s worry list, largely because of its timid approach to labour and pension reforms. Spain has been much more aggressive and is seeing the benefits in terms of rising exports (and, admittedly, sky-high unemployment). So too has Portugal.

Tellingly, both the Iberian countries have had the outlook on their credit ratings raised to stable in recent days while S&P cut France’s rating to AA from AA+. It remains at a far stronger level but the differing directions of travel are clear.

French President Francois Hollande hosts a conference today on youth unemployment. Germany’s Angela Merkel (who held a similar get-together in July), and the EU’s Van Rompuy and Barroso are due to attend.

With jobless rates among the young at 50 percent and above in countries like Spain and Greece, any talk of economic recovery rings hollow. But what to do? The July summit in Berlin came up with precious few solutions.