The mid-1980s were a turning point for French economic policies. When the public authorities implemented budgetary and monetary policies aimed at curbing inflation and making the French franc stronger, notably by limiting the growth of public expenditure. The 1990s saw increasing pressure on the public budget due to the goal of matching the Maastricht criteria in the context of a worsening economic situation. This resulted in dwindling fiscal resources which have become insufficient to meet increasing needs. Growth has been very weak at around 1 per cent per year on average between 1991 and 1996, followed by a slow economic recovery of 2.3 per cent in 1997 (3 per cent is expected for 1998). This has resulted in a sharp rise in unemployment rates from 8.9 per cent in 1990 to a maximum of 12.6 per cent in mid-1997. Combined with an increase in inequalities, this has led to an extension of poverty and social exclusion. The pressure on public expenditure has risen and in spite of frequent new measures for limiting or lowering social protection, the social security deficit has remained at over 50 billion francs per year since 1993.