• France's news in English

Hollande and new Italian PM gang up on austerity

AFP · 1 May 2013, 20:39

Published: 01 May 2013 20:39 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

French President François Hollande met Italy's brand new Prime Minister Enrico Letta, in Paris only days after he took office, and warned that austerity alone was "no longer enough", stressing the need for a focus on growth.

"If one doesn't notice that Europe equates to well-being, opportunities, growth; if one considers that Europe is a bad mother, this will become a big democratic problem because citizens will react against this bad European mother," Letta told reporters after the talks.

"Europe must help people, it must not frustrate them."

Hollande, meanwhile, said that "what is at stake is not only the European concept but political stability in our respective countries."

The comments come as divisions over how the eurozone should tackle its debt crisis deepen, with growing calls for a refocus on growth and an easing of the spending cuts championed by Germany and its allies.

The International Monetary Fund changed tack last month and warned that the eurozone could become trapped in a destructive, downward spiral if it did not refocus on growth.

Spain last week secured an extra two years to meet European targets on the size of its budget deficit, after warning that an economy in which more than one in four of the workforce is unemployed could not withstand more pain.

Letta, who took office earlier this week after a two-month stalemate following Italy's inconclusive February elections, also looks set to take a similar line with promises to focus on measures to kickstart the economy.

France, meanwhile, has seen its ties with Germany cool as the two countries struggle to see eye-to-eye over austerity – a rift that came to light Friday when Hollande's Socialist Party accused Chancellor Angela Merkel of "selfish intransigence" in a leaked document.

Undaunted, Merkel has stayed firm, telling Letta on Tuesday that she did not think budgetary discipline and the goal of economic growth were incompatible as he made a lightning visit to Germany.

Hollande on Wednesday said a compromise could be found "beyond what separates us, or beyond the different situations of for instance Germany, France and Italy".

But he sought to allay fears of a broader rift with Germany, saying the two countries must "work together whatever the situation, whoever the individuals who manage it are and whatever the sensitivities".

Story continues below…

Letta, meanwhile, said his country would stick to budget promises made to the European Union, and called for the prompt establishment of a single European banking union to facilitate growth.

EU leaders in December agreed in principle on a banking union with its first component, a single supervisory mechanism, to be launched in March 2014.

The two other pillars of the banking union will include a bank deposit guarantee scheme and the establishment of a mechanism for dismantling failed banks.

"The banking union ... is there, we decided on it, we must set it up, we must not lose any time in doing so," he said.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available