• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

French attacks on Merkel up heat on Hollande

AFP · 28 Apr 2013, 09:15

Published: 28 Apr 2013 09:15 GMT+02:00

In a document on Europe released on Friday, Hollande's Socialist Party pilloried Merkel for what they said was a "selfish" insistence on austerity as the solution to Europe's three-year-old debt crisis.

The document also accused conservative Merkel, who faces elections on September 22nd, of being obsessed with "Berlin's trade balance and her electoral future".

While also championing measures to boost the eurozone's ailing economy and create jobs, Merkel has stressed the importance of first slashing debt and implementing structural reforms.

Hollande came to power a year ago vowing to reverse this course and place the focus squarely on breathing life back into the 17-nation zone but critics say he has failed to stand up to Merkel, Europe's paymaster and political powerhouse.

The French president, at a new low in the polls after a torrid few weeks domestically, has called for a "friendly tension" with Merkel but other urged him to go further.

"For me, it should be just tension and confrontation if that's what it takes," said Claude Bartolone, the president of France's lower house of parliament, in an interview with the Le Monde daily on Thursday.

And the Socialists' attack has re-encouraged those who believe a focus on austerity is holding Europe back in tackling the crisis.

Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, who hails from Germany's opposition Social Democrats, said: "On a national level, we have gone much too far with austerity policies."

"The argument that investor confidence will return with the reduction of public deficits is undoubtedly false," he told Belgian daily L'Echo.

Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo echoed the thought, telling the La Libre Belgique daily that things had "evolved" and it was time to change course.

"Listen to the IMF, the OECD ... what do they say? That the policies of austerity have to stop, the eurozone being the worst off in the world in terms of (economic) recovery," added Di Rupo.

European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso said earlier in the week a "new narrative" was needed that could "unite citizens and come up with a new vision."

But Berlin appeared to be standing firm, with the finance ministry insisting Europe "stay the course" on repairing public finances.

Sources close to Hollande said that "one cannot flip the tables in one go" and that "subtle" changes were needed to "re-orient" the debate.

But the Socialists' undiplomatic broadside at Merkel and her economic policy will do little to improve ties between France and Germany, seen as the driving force behind European integration.

After talks with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, former French prime minister Francois Fillon said on Friday relations between Paris and Berlin had "rarely been as bad".

He added that political forces in Germany were "worried about the risk of seeing France tempted by an anti-German policy."

Story continues below…

Political scientist Thomas Klau, from the European Council on Foreign Relations, said "mutual incomprehension" had broken out between the parties governing the two key powers.

"There is a growing irritation in Paris over what is seen as a refusal (in Berlin) to see the extreme economic, social and political emergency faced by the countries in the south of the eurozone," Klau told AFP.

Conversely, in Berlin, "there is the impression that the political majority in France hasn't realised how urgent it is to tackle economic and structural reforms," added the expert.

Others said the tension must stop. Michel Barnier, France's representative on the European Commission and a member of the centre-right UMP party opposition, judged the attacks "non-sensical."

"No end to Europe's crisis possible without constructive cooperation between France (and) Germany," he wrote on microblogging site Twitter.

"Let's look at what is working in Germany rather than criticise it," he urged.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
View from the rue
What do Parisians think of France's burqini bans?
Photo: AFP

With 64 percent of the French against burqinis at the beach, what do the Parisians think?

Almost half of France now on heatwave alert
Children cool off in Nice's fountains. Photo: AFP

Orange alerts - the second highest level - were issued to 43 départements as France's heatwave shows no signs of stopping.

France's top ten beaches to survive the heatwave
Photo: Gomezdegomera/Flickr

Temperatures are soaring... why not head to the beach?

Parisians invited to swim in the Bassin de la Villette
People taking part in activities in the Bassin de la Villette. Photo: AFP

If you fancy a rare chance to swim along the Paris canal system, here comes your chance.

French wine output drops 10 percent after stormy weather
A vineyard in Valfaunes partially destroyed after a violent hailstorm near the southern city of Montpellier. Photo: AFP

Bad weather has pushed wine production in France down ten percent this year.

Migrants armed with sticks hold up truck driver in Calais
Migrants standing near the Calais motorway. File photo: AFP

The driver involved says he deals with similar incidents "every night".

Majority in France against burqinis on beaches
The burqini ban in 30 French towns has provoked debate worldwide. Photo: AFP

Almost two thirds of French people said they're against the controversial swimwear.

Five tips for surviving an internship in France
Photo: Thomas Heylen/Flickr

A few things you need to know about interning in France.

Police arrest Lyon man who 'talked of attack plans'
French soldiers patrolling the Part-Dieu train station last year. Photo: AFP

The man had talked about plans to attack a busy district in central Lyon.

France's burqini ban goes before country's top court
A woman models the burqini swimsuit. Photo: AFP

France's highest administrative court will on Thursday examine a request to scrap a ban on the Islamic burqini swimsuit.

Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Eight tips on buying wine in a French supermarket
Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Society
Here's how to enjoy Paris (while avoiding the heat)
Society
Ten mistakes to avoid when dating a Frenchman
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
Twelve 'French' things that aren't actually French at all
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
'World's priciest home' on sale in French Riviera for €1 billion
Lifestyle
RECIPE: How to make the tastiest ratatouille
National
Paris sees Europe's biggest plunge in 'liveability'
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Life on the home front in rural France's 'war on terror'
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
Weird facts you didn't know about the French language
Society
Paris foodie event cancelled over lack of security
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
How to tackle six of the trickiest French verbs
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Summer in France - 'the ideal time to find a job'
National
'Burqini bans will only divide France more'
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
National
French vineyards revive horse-drawn ploughs
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
French mayor bans Pokemon Go app from his village
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
'To boycott France is to surrender to terrorists'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Travel
21 photos to make you want to come to France right now
Society
This is how much the French are obsessed with cheese
National
French MP's call for Facebook ID cards blasted 'as idiotic'
Travel
Summer checklist: Fourteen great travel ideas for France
Travel
Here's why France is still world's top tourist destination
'Wealthy American tourists' snub France over terror fears
National
Where to go swimming in France (and where to avoid)
2,751
jobs available