French presidential candidate Hollande threatens EU pact veto
French presidential frontrunner François Hollande says he will block the EU pact on balancing budgets unless it includes measures to revive Europe’s flagging economies.
"If the pact contains no measures for growth, I can't recommend it for ratification by the National Assembly," Hollande told the German business daily Handelsblatt. "I promised that to the French, I will stick to it."
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel was the driving force behind the pact, which was backed by 25 of 27 EU countries as the bloc was hit by market turmoil.
But Hollande insists that he is “not isolated” because several EU heads of state are not happy with the current economic situation.
"Only a strategy for growth can get Europe out of its crisis,” Hollande said. “All EU countries, even Germany, are suffering from feeble economic growth.”
Hollande also dismissed as "pure PR" a "golden rule" on capping public debt that incumbent
Nicolas Sarkozy proposes should be inscribed in France’s constitution.
Merkel, who has publicly backed Sarkozy’s bid for reelection, brought in a similar provision in Germany.
In a separate interview Hollande said he would not be adapting his economic policies to take account of predictions by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that French growth will be lower this year and next than his economic team has assumed.
Economic austerity will worsen Europe’s economic situation, he told France Inter radio, and that will make it impossible to balance the budget.
Hollande is promising to eliminate France’s budget deficit by 2017.