Tuesday

12th Dec 2017

Merkel-bashing Socialists cause controversy in France

  • Hollande has stayed out of the debate so far (Photo: European Council)

A personal attack on German leader Angela Merkel by President Francois Hollande's Socialist party has prompted fierce debate in France.

The attack came in a draft policy paper designed to be published at a party congress in June but leaked on Friday (26 April) in French daily Le Monde.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The 21-page text accused centre-right governments in Europe in general of a laundry list of faults: "cynicism … [putting] markets above people … blind austerity … naivety."

It blamed European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso for showing "an absence of initiative."

But it reserved its harshest language for the German leader.

It spoke of the "selfish intransigence of Angela Merkel, who thinks of nothing other than the savings of depositors [in Germany], of the trade balance posted by Berlin and of her electoral future."

It added: "The friendship between France and Germany is not a friendship between France and the European politics of Chancellor Merkel."

Reactions to the text dominated French headlines over the weekend.

For its part, Germany tried to play down its importance.

Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told Le Monde: "We work very well together. We don't have the feeling that there is a change in [French] policy."

But French centre-right politicians went on the warpath.

Former prime minister Alain Juppe told Le Monde that Hollande has "ruptured confidence with Germany" and left France "completely isolated" on the European stage.

Former education minister Luc Chatel spoke on Twitter of a "drift toward Germanophobia."

France's centre-right EU commissioner, Michel Barnier, tweeted that the attack on Merkel was "foolish."

The French paper of record, Le Figaro, called it "irresponsible." Even the left-leaning paper, Liberation, called it "a dangerous game."

Hollande said nothing.

But the Socialist party's deputy chairman, Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, tried to row back, telling French broadcaster RTL that all references to Merkel will be removed from the paper and admitting that some of the language was "a bit violent."

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault also tried to pour oil on troubled water.

He tweeted in French and German that: "We cannot solve Europe's problems without an intense and sincere dialogue between France and Germany."

But Hollande's junior economy minister, Benoit Hamon, kept up the Merkel-bashing in an interview with the British paper The Observer on Sunday.

He said: "Only Merkel, supported by a few northern countries, believes austerity is working."

He added that "the only economy that is resisting, opposing, vetoing [ideas on how to restore economic growth in Europe] is Germany."

France threatens US trade veto over culture

The French government has dismissed as "naive" suggestions that a transatlantic trade deal with the US could substantially benefit the EU economy and take it out of crisis.

EU criticises France on economic 'imbalances'

France and Slovenia moved a step closer to the eye of the eurozone storm after being censured by the European Commission for having "macro-economic balances."

EU blacklists 17 tax havens, avoids sanctions

Finance ministers pointed out 'non-cooperative' entities and set up a second 'grey' list of more than 40 countries that have promised to improve their tax practices.

News in Brief

  1. EU to Israel: Don't expect us to move embassies
  2. EU Commission condemns anti-semitic 'Jerusalem' protests
  3. Ministers have 'lots of questions' on new CAP plans
  4. Commission: Brexit agreement is 'deal between gentlemen'
  5. 25 EU states sign defence cooperation pact
  6. Netanyahu wants 'hardy' talks with EU on Jerusalem
  7. French centre-right elects new leader
  8. Germany and UK increase arms sales

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  2. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  3. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  7. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  8. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  9. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  10. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  11. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  12. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage

Latest News

  1. Alignment with EU is 'last resort', May tells MPs
  2. Iceland: further from EU membership than ever
  3. Israel presses Jerusalem claim in EU capital
  4. From dark coal toward a brighter future
  5. UK casts doubt on EU deal in 'bizarre' twist
  6. Romania wants EU signal on Schengen membership
  7. Germany says China using LinkedIn to recruit informants
  8. No chance of expanding EU warrant crime list