SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

France’s Macron and Italy’s Draghi call for EU fiscal reform

The French President and the Italian Prime Minister discussed EU fiscal reforms on Thursday, in the context of rising national debts and the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi shake hands.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi shake hands. The pair discussed EU fiscal reform over the phone on Thursday. (Photo by Domenico Stinellis / POOL / AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called on the EU on Thursday to reform its fiscal rules in order to allow greater investment spending while acknowledging the necessity to reduce debts.

“Just as the rules could not be allowed to stand in the way of our response to the pandemic, so they should not prevent us from making all necessary investments,” the French president and Italian prime minister wrote in a joint column published on the Financial Times website.

Macron had already said on December 9 that he intended to make a reform of the so-called Maastricht criteria one of his priorities when France takes over the rotating EU presidency next month.

He argued that the rule that a member country’s public deficit should not exceed 3.0 percent of its gross domestic product was outdated.

Now with the backing of his Italian counterpart, he reiterated his stance on Thursday, addressing EU members who had expressed reservations about adopting an exceptional post-pandemic recovery budget.

Germany’s new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, for one, is more reserved about a possible reform of the fiscal rules.

“There is no doubt that we must bring down our levels of indebtedness. But we cannot expect to do this through higher taxes or unsustainable cuts in social spending, nor can we choke off growth through unviable fiscal adjustment,” Macron and Draghi wrote.

“We need to have more room for manoeuvre and enough key spending for the future and to ensure our sovereignty,” they continued.

“Debt raised to finance such investments, which undeniably benefit the welfare of future generations and long-term growth, should be favoured by the fiscal rules, given that public spending of this sort actually contributes to debt sustainability over the long run.”

According to Macron’s office, the French leader is hoping that an informal summit of EU heads of state and government will be able to draw up “a quantified estimate of investment needs.”

The rules “will have to evolve accordingly, including competition and trade rules, but also European budgetary rules… which must be adapted to the challenges of the time,” it said.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

POLITICS

Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

The final composition of the new French government was announced on Friday. A new investigation suggests that historic rape allegations against a newly appointed minister were ignored.

Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

It didn’t take long for scandal to hit the France’s new government.

An investigation by Mediapart published the day after the final list of ministerial positions was announced revealed that two women have accused one of the appointees of rape. 

READ MORE Who’s who in France’s new government?

Damien Abad, the new Solidarity Minister denies the allegations and a police investigation into one allegation was dropped in 2017. But another could be about to open. 

Who is Damien Abad? 

Damien Abad is a 42-year-old son of a miner from Nimes in southern France who became the first handicapped MP to be elected in 2012. He has arthrogryposis, a rare condition that affects the joints.

Prior to his appointment as the Minister for Solidarity, Autonomy and Disabled People, he was the leader of the France’s right-wing Republicans party in the Assemblée nationale

What are the allegations? 

Two alleged victims, who didn’t know each other, told Mediapart that Abad raped them on separate occasions in 2010 and 2011.

The first woman described meeting Abad for dinner after having met him weeks earlier at a wedding. She said she blacked out after one glass of champagne and woke up in her underwear in a hotel bed with Abad the next morning fearing she had been drugged. 

A second woman who lodged a formal charge against Abad in 2017 said that he harassed her by text message for years. She eventually agreed to meet with him one evening. After initially consenting, she told him to stop – but her plea fell on deaf ears as Abad raped her. 

What does Abad have to say? 

The new minister denies the accusations.

“It is physically impossible for me to commit the acts described,” he told Mediapart – in reference to his disability. 

He admitted to sending “sometimes intimate” messages, but said he had “obviously never drugged anyone”. 

“I was able to have adventures, I stand by my claim that they were always consensual.”

Is he under investigation? 

The second alleged victim made a formal allegation against Abad in 2017. 

A subsequent investigation was dropped later that year after a “lack of sufficient evidence was gathered”.

Mediapart report that Abad’s entourage were not questioned by police and that the MP told investigators that he had no memory of the alleged crime. 

The first alleged victim flagged the abuse to the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics – an unofficial watchdog monitoring elected bodies – earlier this month. 

The Observatory has since brought the case to the state prosecutor, but it is unclear if another investigation will be launched.  

Who knew? 

The tone deaf appointment of Gérald Darmanin as Interior Minister in 2020 was controversial because at the time he was under investigation for rape. His nomination was met with street protests in Paris and elsewhere. Feminists accused (and continue to accuse) Emmanuel Macron of not taking sexual violence seriously. 

The investigation into Darmanin’s alleged crime has since been dropped.

Some will question whether the naming of Abad shows that lessons have not been learned. 

“Once again a minister  in the government of Emmanuel Macron accused of rape,” said Caroline De Haas, the founder of the #NousToutes feminist movement. 

The Observatory sent a message warning senior party figures in the Republicans and LREM about the allegations on Monday – prior to Abad’s nomination. 

France’s new Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne denied having any knowledge of the warning. 

“I am going to be very clear on all these questions of harassment and sexual violence, there will be no impunity,” she said during a visit to Calvados. 

“If there are new elements, if the courts are summoned, we will accept the consequences.” 

READ MORE Who is Élisabeth Borne, France’s new PM?

The Observatory meanwhile claims it has been ignored. 

“Despite our alerts, Damien Abad who is accused of rape has been named in government. Thoughts and support to the victims,” it tweeted

SHOW COMMENTS