TOULOUSE, France — France's new president Nicolas Sarkozy made struggling European plane-maker Airbus the center of his desire for an "ambitious industrial policy," promising Friday that his government will seek new investors and was ready to inject new cash into Airbus' parent, European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co.

TOULOUSE, France — France's new president Nicolas Sarkozy made struggling European plane-maker Airbus the center of his desire for an "ambitious industrial policy," promising Friday that his government will seek new investors and was ready to inject new cash into Airbus' parent, European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co.

"We are ready to follow, we are ready to take the lead, we are ready to put money in," he said at an Airbus site near the company's headquarters in Toulouse, southwest France.

As finance minister in 2004, Sarkozy engineered a rescue plan for engineering giant Alstom that included a 2.5 billion euro, state-orchestrated bailout to steer the train and power-plant builder away from bankruptcy. The bailout brought complaints from EU trade officials and questions over Sarkozy's pro-market credentials.

Sarkozy promised to come back to Toulouise with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in July and organize a meeting with shareholders.

"If we fail to make the reforms EADS requires, it is the credibility of major European industrial projects which is at stake," he said, seated beside Airbus Chief Executive Louis Gallois.

The French state owns 15 percent of EADS.

Airbus has suffered from a falling dollar — the currency in which it sell its planes — and two years of accumulated delays to the 555-seater A380 which have wiped more than 5 billion euros ($6.6 billion) off Airbus' profit forecasts for 2006-2010. It also has to fund the development of the A350, its answer to U.S. rival Boeing Co.'s 787 long-range, mid-sized aircraft. Airbus' restructuring plan, known as Power-8, is meant to recoup some of the losses by cutting costs and jobs.

Unions welcomed Sarkozy's plans for new capital, but labor officials awaiting job cuts were skeptical.

Xavier Petrachi of the CGT union said he wasn't reassured by Sarkozy's current stance on the Power-8 plan, which calls for 10,000 job cuts over four years, mostly in France and Germany.

Sarkozy said he has confidence in Gallois and that job cuts are necessary. He promised that a separate Airbus plant in Meaulte in northern France would not be closed, but angered unions leaders by saying he may seek a new partner for the site.

Sarkozy said Airbus' problems are due to its shareholder structure, not management, and that the EADS shareholder pact should be changed to attract new investors.

"How can you entice new shareholders to invest in the company with a shareholder pact which gives new shareholders the obligation to pay, but not the right to vote?" he asked.

Both the unions and management are united in calls for changes to the leadership structure. The head of MEDEF, a union representing France's bosses, suggested Friday that the duel Franco-German leadership running Airbus parent company EADS is not the best tool for governing.

"It is obvious that, when running a team, it is best to have a chief, a leader who is clearly designated and recognized by all," Laurence Parisot said on France-2 television.

Sarkozy said he wants to outlaw "golden parachute" payoffs for departing executives and that a proposed law on the issue would be tabled perhaps as soon as July. Debate was sparked by the 8.5 million euros ($11.5 million) pocketed by Noel Forgeard, the former co-chief executive, after he was fired in mid-2006, even though EADS' financial situation has deteriorated alarmingly.

"I do not accept the idea that people who failed have the assurance of leaving with a fat check," Sarkozy said.