French presidential frontrunner threatens EU pact veto

AFP , Wednesday 18 Apr 2012

Nicolas Sarkozy's contender, Francois Hollande warns of blocking an EU pact for increased fiscal rigour

French presidential frontrunner Francois Hollande told a German newspaper Wednesday he would block the EU's pact for greater fiscal rigour if it failed to include measures for growth.

"If the pact contains no measures for growth, I can't recommend it for ratification by the National Assembly," Hollande told Handelsblatt business daily, four days before the first round of the presidential vote.

"I promised that to the French, I will stick to it," he added.

The new German-inspired pact on fiscal discipline has been agreed by 25 of the 27 European Union nations after months of market turmoil and political wrangling to stop the debt crisis spreading.

"Only a strategy for growth can get Europe out of its crisis. All EU countries, even Germany, are suffering from meagre economic growth," Hollande said.

He said that stronger discipline on national budgets was needed but argued against "saving for saving's sake".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the driving force behind the pact, meant to encourage budget stability in a Europe hard-hit by the Greek debt crisis.

Hollande also dismissed as "a pure PR operation" a draft "golden rule" on capping public debt for inclusion into the French constitution defended by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Merkel, who has openly backed Sarkozy's re-election bid, is a staunch defender of the debt cap since Germany introduced the measure into its own constitution and is pushing other EU countries to follow suit.

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