On February 13, France acknowledged that it will be unable to respect the budget deficit target of 3 per cent of GDP this year. On the same day, European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Olli Rehn made public a letter addressed to EU finance ministers, which points out that the Pact for the euro allows for exemptions, on a case by case basis, in the event of recession.

“In private, however,” notes the daily —

European leaders are concerned to see François Hollande attempt to garner support from eurozone malcontents with a view to watering down, or even scrapping, the dogma of budgetary austerity, which Angela Merkel and her allies in Northern Europe have sought to impose over the last three years.