• France's news in English
 

French attacks on Merkel up heat on Hollande

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
Le Pen family feud reaches boiling point
Le Pen family punch-up: Jean-Marie steals the limelight from Marine on May 1. Photo: AFP

Le Pen family feud reaches boiling point

France's far-right National Front chief Marine Le Pen said on Sunday her father should "no longer be able to speak in the name of" the party. READ  

French boat saves 217 people from sea off Libya
A makeshift boat filled with migrants spotted last month by an Italian Navy ship, in the Mediterranean sea near Lampedusa. Photo: Italian Navy

French boat saves 217 people from sea off Libya

A French navy ship sent to boost EU migrant patrols in the Mediterranean rescued 217 people Saturday off the coast of Libya, officials said. READ  

Charlie Hebdo says prize protesters are 'confused'
Charlie Hebdo's editor-in-chief, Gerard Biard(L) speaks as film critic, Jean-Baptiste Thoret, looks on. Photo: AFP

Charlie Hebdo says prize protesters are 'confused'

Two of the surviving journalists from French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo brushed off controversy over a literary award on Friday. READ  

Femen and her father ruin Le Pen's big day
Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Femen and her father ruin Le Pen's big day

Bare-chested Femen activists making Nazi salutes disrupted a speech by France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen for five minutes Friday at her National Front's traditional May 1st rally in Paris. READ  

Bolivia upholds French couple's murder ruling
Convicted killer Jaime Martinez (c). Photo: Aizar Raldes/AFP

Bolivia upholds French couple's murder ruling

A Bolivian court on Thursday upheld the 30-year prison sentence of a man convicted of killing a young French couple in 2010. READ  

Migrant camps emerge in the heart of Paris
Around 80 tents are home to around 250 migrants near La Chapelle Metro station. Photo: The Local

Migrant camps emerge in the heart of Paris

In recent weeks almost 500 refugees who have made their way to France via the notorious migrant boats across the Mediterranean have set up camp at two locations in the heart of Paris. But many tell The Local they have no plans of staying in the French capital. READ  

Eight charged in France for horsemeat trafficking
Eight people have been charged in France over horsemeat trafficking.

Eight charged in France for horsemeat trafficking

French authorities have charged eight people over their alleged role in a Europe-wide horsemeat trafficking ring dismantled last weekend, a judicial source said Thursday. READ  

Central African Republic
Hollande: 'No mercy' if troops guilty of rape
French soldiers on duty in Central African Republic are met by President Hollande. Some have been accused of raping young boys. Photo: AFP

Hollande: 'No mercy' if troops guilty of rape

UPDATED: France has denied any cover-up after allegations its soldiers raped young boys in the Central African Republic. Paris has opened up a formal investigation, with President Hollande promising "no mercy" if the troops are found guilty. READ  

France hits jackpot with Qatar fighter jet deal
France has struck a deal with Qatar for 24 Rafale fighter jets. Photo: AFP

France hits jackpot with Qatar fighter jet deal

French group Dassault Aviation is poised to sign a multi-billion-euro deal with Qatar for 36 of its Rafale fighter jets, the presidency and sources said Thursday, the third foreign order this year. READ  

French teen suicide after sex video web bullying
The girl was found dead on the ground outside her apartment. Photo: AFP

French teen suicide after sex video web bullying

A 15-year-old French girl has taken her own life after an intimate film featuring her and her boyfriend was shared online, leading to her being the victim of some vicious online bullying and blackmail. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Five great outdoor bars in Paris to check out this summer
Society
French elevator protocol: Greeting, flirting and yes, even sex
National
What's on in France: Ten things to do in May
National
France goes on the defensive after UN experts say 'racism is trivialised'
Double standards? French Muslim barred from class over long skirt
Travel
Getting from CDG airport to Paris by road should now be a lot quicker
International
The French don't seem to care about the UK election and that's normal
France may produce the most wine, but who drinks the most?
National
Why do the French have such a sorry record for recycling?
7Up row could see French language enforced on all flights to Canada
Culture
Take a peek inside France's newest, but oldest tourist attraction
National
How to disguise the fact you are clearly not French
France desperately hunts for church terror plot accomplices
WARNING - When in France use first names with caution
Can France really protect 4,500 churches around the country?
So what does the world's oldest bubbly taste like?
British expats left in lurch by NHS clampdown
Tossing cigarette butts in Paris to prompt €68 fines
Culture
Cannes Film Festival reveals jury
Flamanville: France's nuclear 'calamity' that has the UK worried
Features
Forget the Mona Lisa, here's the weirdest objects you can see around Paris
For many Britons 'Waterloo' is just an Abba song or a train station
IN PICTURES: See the French ship 'Hermione' set sail again for the US
Opinion
Is it time the French scrapped tu and vous?
National
Marine Le Pen makes Time 'most influential' list
National
Sexual harassment rife on Paris trains
Cannes Film Festival line-up revealed
National
Cartoonist's book slams 'Islamophobia swindlers'
National
More French women than men lured by Isis
Society
Les Entrepreneurs: We chat with the founder of Paris Picnic
National
Edith Piaf celebrated at Parisian exhibit
National
Spain's newest export to France: Vultures
How the health reforms will change life in France
Gallery
Naked protests: The French love to take their clothes off to make a point
Travel
So why would anyone really want to live in Lille?
Opinion
Why the French should be very worried about new spying powers
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Then and now - the site of the Alps plane crash
International
Did the Pope reject France's envoy to the Vatican because he was gay?
Did a row over stolen veg lead to the murder of a British expat in France?
VIDEO: French rail chiefs SNCF furious after the Paris-Roubaix race
Sport
What the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris would look like
Culture
IN PICS: Take a look inside France's new 36,000 year-old tourist site
Cyberjihad: Hacking of French TV channel was 'a step up'
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

?>