New figures show French economic growth last year ground to a halt, with GDP contracting to a flat 0%.

The French government numbers today show that GDP was down from 1.7% in 2011.

Independent auditors for the government called on France earlier this week to get its finances in order.

They said the country is spending too much money - much of it on wasteful programmes - and not taking in enough money in taxes.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault this week acknowledged that France would miss ambitious budget targets intended to stabilise its economy and meet European requirements.

France is the world's fifth largest economy and the second-largest in Europe after Germany.

"Growth in France, Europe and the world is weaker than expected," Ayrault said.

They said the country is spending too much money - much of it on wasteful programmes - and not taking in enough money in taxes.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault this week acknowledged that France would miss ambitious budget targets intended to stabilise its economy and meet European requirements.

France is the world's fifth largest economy and the second-largest in Europe after Germany.

"Growth in France, Europe and the world is weaker than expected," Ayrault said.