Hollande faces challenges as int´l concern rises (JERUSALEM POST) By JOSEPH STRICH JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 05/13/12)
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PARIS – Europe is still worried after last Sunday’s victory of
Socialist party leader François Hollande in the French presidential
Not just Europe is disquieted about the departure of outgoing
president Nicolas Sarkozy, half of the Franco-German Sarkozy-Merkel
partnership.The United States and China are too.
For Washington, it is the loss of its close ally “Sarko the
American,” as he was called in France. The Americans have been asking
themselves: Will the new president be “pragmatic” or an “ideologue?”
According to a diplomatic source in Paris, what makes both the White
House and Berlin unhappy is Hollande’s wish to renegotiate the
European Budgetary Pact in order to include in it a “growth element.”
Angela Merkel will have discussions with Hollande will meet with
Angela Merkel on Tuesday, just after officially becoming president.
Five years ago, Sarkozy did the same: He flew to meet Merkel the same
day he became president, and came back to the Elysée late at night.
According to the press, the deal is not re-negotiable.
The two leaders had their first phone conversation this week after
Hollande’s victory and until now have never talked face to face.
The German chancellor refused to meet him during the campaign.
She was a strong supporter of his opponent, who belongs to the same
right-wing persuasion. She even intervened in his favor in the
election. She was planning to come to one of his mass meeting, but in
the end this was abandon by Sarkozy’s campaigners.
But some specialists here think that this “growth element” might
finally find favor with the European leaders, since it is necessary
as a complementary measure to the “austerity elements” that were
imposed by Germany on Greece and other countries, and which those
countries are finding nearly impossible to apply.
Another measure that might be accepted by the Europeans and by the
Obama administration is the French government’s plan for withdrawal
from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, as this is not contrary to the
Pentagon’s own plans.
The most worried power, however, seems to be China, who will not
appreciate Hollande’s insistence on human rights, an issue very
important for the French Socialist Party and its allies in the new
left-wing coalition. Two other issues wait for Hollande and Hu Jintao
when they will meet in June at the G20 meeting in Mexico: that of the
non-convertibility of the yuan and the lack of respect shown by
Chinese enterprises toward environmental norms.
For the European leaders, everything will be on the table at their
summit on June 28-29. In order for the newcomer to feel more at ease
and for everyone to get to know him, Herman Van Rompuy, the president
of the European Council, has decided to organize an informal dinner
in Brussels on May 23. This informal get-together is an extraordinary
meeting that will mark the European ‘baptism of fire’ for François
Hollande, who proposed during his campaign the relaunch of the debate
on the necessity to make growth a priority in Europe.
“Of course it is only an informal dinner, but it must help us not to
make the official June 28-29 summit one of just simple declarations.
We must show that there is a way out of the crisis, and agree upon
measures to relaunch the economic activity at the EU level,” a source
close to the new president explained to the daily paper Libération.
According to the newspaper, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and
British Prime Minister David Cameron, plus a dozen other European
leaders, don’t agree with the political rigors imposed on Europe by
Angela Merkel. Like Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central
Bank, most of the leaders believe that growth needs more a
competitive environment, a liberalization of the labor market and the
creation of free-trade agreements with countries outside EU –
proposals advanced by none other than Nicolas Sarkozy. (© 1995-2011,
The Jerusalem Post 05/13/12)
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