• France's news in English
 

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."

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
UN to meet in Paris over minorities hit by Isis

UN to meet in Paris over minorities hit by Isis

7 minutes ago

A UN conference on minorities persecuted by the Islamic State group will be held on September 8th in Paris, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday.

French journos 'try to blackmail' Morocco king
King Mohammed VI. Photo: AFP

French journos 'try to blackmail' Morocco king

17 minutes ago

Two French investigative journalists were arrested on Thursday in Paris on suspicion of trying to blackmail the king of Morocco, legal sources in both countries said.

Police evacuate France's oldest shanty town
Roma community members walk with their belongings after the forced evacuation of their camp on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Police evacuate France's oldest shanty town

16 hours ago

A 300-strong Roma population was evicted from a shanty town in the northern suburbs of Paris on Thursday, despite a strong call for the camp to remain.

French coach drivers to get forced breath tests
People waiting at the Gallieni international bus station and coach terminal in Bagnolet, east of Paris. Photo: Hugo Mathy/AFP

French coach drivers to get forced breath tests

16 hours ago

Coach drivers in France will be forced to have their blood-alcohol level tested via a breathalyzer before driving as part of a move to increase safety on the country’s growing coach industry.

France's Total sells North Sea gas assets
Tank trucks at French oil giant Total's La Mede refinery in Chateauneuf-les-Martigues. Photo: Bertrand Langlois/AFP

France's Total sells North Sea gas assets

18 hours ago

French oil giant Total announced on Thursday it had agreed to sell a North Sea gas terminal and two pipelines in a deal worth over $900 million in a move to help offset falling oil prices.

French police clear train after 'armed men joke'
The TGV train was evacuated in Nimes, southern France. File photo: AFP

French police clear train after 'armed men joke'

19 hours ago

In what might be the least funny "joke" of the year, a teenage girl sent her mother a text claiming there were two armed men aboard her train in southern France. Police weren't laughing.

Gunman at French camp shootout was drunk
Members of the gendarmes forensic unit set up a workspace on a road near a traveller camp. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Gunman at French camp shootout was drunk

23 hours ago

UPDATED: Investigators have revealed that a drunken man was behind the fatal shooting of four people at a traveller camp in northern France on Tuesday.

Journo 'tests' French rail security with fake gun
A Securail railway security agent stands on the platform at the Zuid-Midi railway station in Brussels. Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga/AFP

Journo 'tests' French rail security with fake gun

21 hours ago

A Belgian journalist has managed to travel on a French train with a fake machine gun just days after a terror attack was foiled on a Paris-bound train.

11-year-old boy survives six-storey fall in Paris

11-year-old boy survives six-storey fall in Paris

23 hours ago

Residents of a southern Paris apartment block have been left in shock after a young fell from the sixth floor of the building.

French woman wins grant for 'gadget allergy'
The woman claims to suffer an allergy to electromagnetic radiation from gadgets such as cellphones. Photo: gail/Flickr

French woman wins grant for 'gadget allergy'

1 day ago

A French court has awarded a disability grant to a woman claiming to suffer from a debilitating allergy to electromagnetic radiation from everyday gadgets such as cellphones.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

National
Feminist stunt sees French road signs changed for the day
National
Two men jailed after 'Charlie Hebdo 2' scare
National
French minister calls for tougher train security after foiled attack
National
President Hollande condemns arson attack on mosque
TIMELINE: What exactly happened on the Paris-bound "terror train"?
Travel
Could coaches overtake trains when it comes to travelling in France?
Train gunman: Islamic extremist or homeless misfit?
Meet the five heroes who foiled the French train attack
National
France set for 'tourism record' of 85 million visitors in 2015
National
Paris students are helping police to warn Asian visitors about crime
Naked couple found dead beside French fortress
Europe's biggest science museum burns in Paris
Robber found half-naked and asleep in French beauty salon
National
Here are eight tips for blending in with the French while at the beach
Humans of Paris: We meet the man changing our perception of Parisians
National
France reveals new plans for Sunday and late-night shopping
Read about this revolutionary kidney op in a Toulouse hospital
National
Panic after four dogs 'poisoned' after walks in Paris park
France hit by huge summer spike in abandoned pets
National
France boils in second hottest summer ever
Technology
Meet Max - the first person in France to receive a 3D-printed hand
Politics
French minister admits to 'Obama engagement' tweeting mishap
Features
From giant bubbles to treehouses - here are the craziest hotels in France
National
How would you like to spend a night in the Palace of Versailles?
French manager paid to do nothing for 12 years
Features
We talk to Calais residents about their migrant crisis
National
Cow spared after fleeing from abattoir in France
FIVE reasons why everyone should visit Calais... yes Calais
Travel
France for adrenaline junkies: Ten crazy things to do
VIDEO: Slingshot elastic breaks on ride at French theme park
This plant might spell the end of the Asian hornet invasion
Who says the French don't like speaking English
National
It may be trickier to find a baguette in Paris this August
Killers of French student were 'inspired by Breaking Bad'
Ten must-see French gems you probably never thought of visiting
Is it time for France to force Britain to move border back across Channel?
Is romance in France just a "heterosexual concept"?
Can YOU pronounce these ten French town names?
Dog buried alive sparks French social media fury
New plan to get shy French chatting on trains
'Massacre' of black cats shocks Marseille locals
Education
Rampaging kids trash French kindergarten
French bullfighting president mauled by rampaging bull
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se