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4th Feb 2023

Hollande opposes Merkel crisis response

  • Hollande does not agree with a treaty change (Photo: Francois Hollande)

The projected winner of the French presidential elections, Francois Hollande has said that under his watch, the European Court of Justice would not be given extra powers to veto national budgets, placing him in direct opposition to German plans to solve the crisis.

“I will never accept that in the name of control over national budgets, the ECJ can be judge of the expenses and revenues of a sovereign state,” he told reporters on Wednesday (30 November) in the European Parliament in Brussels.

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“I perfectly admit that there can be rules that have to respected. But only democratic institutions can contribute to them,” he added.

The comments are a direct reference to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is expected to propose changes to the EU treaty at a summit of European leaders from 8-9 December that would see the court impose sanctions on eurozone states that it has decided have overspent. Berlin favours this approach as such a ruling could not be overruled by governments.

Asked how he was planning to convince the German chancellor, Hollande said: “We will see. Ms Merkel knows what democracy means. I would only ask that she respects the choice of the French people.”

Hollande, who has been leading in the polls ever since he won the Socialist Party primaries last month, had come to the European capital to elaborate on his ideas about the crisis and how to solve it. If elected, he would assume office in May next year.

His proposals are based on the current rulebook, he said, and there was no need to change it.

“They should stop making us believe that a treaty change is needed for a budget policy to be co-ordinated and disciplined,” he noted.

Ratification of such a treaty change by all 27 national parliaments would take too much time, he said.

“It is not the announcement of a treaty change that is going to put things in order in the coming months. Do you think that the markets would wait? We have to act immediately,” he said.

Instead, he proposes to increase the size of the eurozone’s rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility; to pool a part of the zone’s debt by issuing eurobonds; to encourage the European Central Bank to more actively purchase government debt; and to introduce a tax on financial transactions.

Finally, asked whether he could envision a more drastic treaty change to allow for a federal Europe to emerge, he said: “I am favourable to that idea, but only if there is some sort of project. Budget controls, sanctions, austerity; that’s not a project. A federal Europe should be based on cohesion and growth. It can only be based on content, not on procedures.”

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