Tuesday

25th Apr 2017

Europe's left-wing turn worries markets

  • With Hollande's ouster of Sarkozy, Merkel has lost an important ally in her austerity drive (Photo: Francois Hollande)

With a Socialist president in France and a strong popular mandate in Greece for re-negotiating the terms of its bail-out, the German-driven focus on budget discipline in Europe may have to soften.

The euro traded at its lowest in three months on Asian markets Monday morning (7 May), down to $1.29 from $1.3 on Friday. It also fell against the Japanese yen from 104.5 on Friday to 103.4.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

An investor note from the National Australia Bank spelled out the worries: "The Hollande win in France is not necessarily a surprise. However it brings home the reality that incumbents following the prescribed austerity measures are going to find it difficult to remain elected."

"What happens to these austerity measures now are what are weighing on (the euro)," the bank said.

Budget discipline and austerity were one of the main topics in the French election campaign, with Hollande leading calls to re-focus on growth-spurring measures instead of deepening the recession with budget cuts.

In Greece, pro-bail-out parties that had signed up to the austerity programme were punished by voters, with a radical-left coalition coming in second. The leader of New Democracy, the party which scored most but not enough to rule alone or with its former ally, said he is willing to form a broad coalition provided Greece stays in the euro and the terms of the bail-out are re-negotiated.

Back in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel took her time in congratulating Francois Hollande, some three hours after the exit polls were announced. Her spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted that they "both aspire to collaborate closely" and that she invited Hollande to Berlin soon after his inauguration.

Merkel - from the same centre-right political family as Nicolas Sakozy - had refused to meet the Socialist candidate before the vote and publicly supported Sarkozy. This came after Hollande repeatedly stated he will re-open the recently signed treaty enshrining a balanced budget rule in national law, a German condition for further bail-outs.

German papers on Monday morning read the Greek and French election results as an "anti-German" vote, making her increasingly isolated on EU stage when it comes to fiscal discipline. In addition, regional elections in the northern part of Germany have weakened her party and bolstered the junior coalition partner, the liberal Free Democrats.

In Brussels, EU officials were keen to show themselves in tune with the underlying message of the two votes

EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso congratulated Hollande on his win noting that he met the French politician last November and they clearly have a "common objective": "To relaunch the European economy so as to generate sustainable growth on a solid base and creating new jobs."

The litmus test for the commission's commitment to the strengthened fiscal discipline rules will be on 30 May, when it is supposed to assess for the first time the budgets and plans of member states to reduce their deficits.

Out of the EU's 27 members, only Estonia, Finland, Luxembourg and Sweden are in line with the rules, all other countries are under the so-called excessive deficit procedure which can lead to fines or, in the case of non-euro countries, to having their EU funds suspended.

Radical left and neo-Nazis score well in Greek elections

Greek voters have punished the two ruling parties responsible for the last EU bail-out by giving the radical left the second highest number of votes and allowing a neo-Nazi party into the legislature for the first time.

Hollande elected next president of France

Francois Hollande is to be the next president of France after initial results showed that around 52 percent of voters cast their ballot for the socialist and self-styled Monsieur Normal.

IMF tells Germany to do more for eurozone

Germany's economy is doing well in its recovery, but the country should be more "active" in helping the rest of the eurozone cope with the crisis, the International Monetary Fund has said.

Eurogroup makes 'progress' on Greek deal

Eurozone ministers endorsed an agreement in principle between the Greek government and its creditors over a new package of reforms. But talks on fiscal targets and debt could still block a final agreement.

New anti-trust complaint looms over Microsoft

At least three security software companies “met several times” with the European Commission to complain about Microsoft’s alleged abuse of its market position. A formal case could follow.

Commission stops German-British stock merger

The decision to block the merger of the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse was expected, as negotiations between the parties broke down a few weeks ago.

New anti-trust complaint looms over Microsoft

At least three security software companies “met several times” with the European Commission to complain about Microsoft’s alleged abuse of its market position. A formal case could follow.

Investigation

MEPs oppose EU agency to prevent Dieselgate II

The European Parliament said on Tuesday that there should be more EU oversight on how cars are approved, but stopped short of calling for an independent EU agency.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary's Orban will participate in EU parliament debate
  2. Malta floats cash-for-refugees plan
  3. Ivanka Trump to meet Merkel at Berlin women's conference
  4. Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in 20 years
  5. Nord Stream 2 to get €4.8bn from European energy firms
  6. Defeated Fillon retires from French politics
  7. Hollande: Vote Macron to avoid 'risk' for France
  8. Italy misses deadline on air quality warning