Political union

Hollande takes up Merkel’s challenge

Published on 17 May 2013 at 14:37


“At last a French proposition for Europe!” announces Le Monde, which welcomes the new European attitude outlined by the French President during his May 16 statement

François Hollande’s address to Europeans and Germany at his press conference, finally put an end to the dodging and obstruction of European policy that have marked his tenure since his election. […] In affirming that France should be the "link" between northern and southern Europe, the head of state has given up on the idea of rallying Latin countries to oppose a Germanic Europe.

The daily also argues that in calling for united “economic government” in the Eurozone —

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François Hollande is taking Angela Merkel, who proposed a political union a year ago, at her word. At the time, he was critical of an empty proposition. Today he has given it "substance". Taking Germany at its word is the right strategy. At last, France is once again bringing a proposition to the European table. However, it will only be credible if Mr Hollande sets his French house in order.

In Germany, where François Hollande’s remarks have been received with much less enthusiasm, Die Welt points out that the “so-called offensive is mainly composed of measures that were already presented by his predecessor,” whether they be —

… the European economic government that was called for by Sarkozy before the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 2008, or the idea of issuing bonds, which for tactical reasons Hollande is no longer calling Eurobonds, in the hope that the stubborn Germans will one day accept them.

With regard to his address to Germany, Die Welt remarks that Hollande’s attitude consists of “moaning about German austerity not only as a statement of his ideological position, but also as a tactical measure.” For the newspaper —

… in presenting himself as someone who is willing to do battle with the spectre of a Merkel style austerity diktat, he is trying to obtain room for manoeuvre that, in a best case scenario, will enable him to push through unpopular reforms. It follows that Angela Merkel will have to continue to allow him use her as a European punching-ball for some time to come.

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