Saturday

16th Feb 2019

Hollande faces down EU fiscal pact rebels

  • Paris: Hollande has threatened to tear up the treaty during his election campaign (Photo: Moyan Brenn)

France will become the latest country to ratify the EU's fiscal compact treaty after President Francois Hollande faced down his first parliamentary rebellion and saw the agreement passed by a large majority in the National Assembly on Tuesday (9 October).

A bill to adopt the treaty, which enshrines debt and deficit ceilings from the EU's stability and growth pact in national constitutions, was backed by 477 votes to 70.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Two hundred and eighty two Socialist party deputies voted in favour of the deal, sparing the recently-elected President Hollande the embarrassment of relying on opposition centre-right UMP votes to secure a majority.

However, despite pleas from Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault to back the deal - which critics say would make it impossible for countries in recession to put in place economic stimulus measures - 45 deputies from Hollande's 315 member socialist/green coalition either opposed it or abstained.

The numbers add up to the largest parliamentary revolt in Hollande's short presidency.

Hollande himself welcomed the result, insisting that "this sweeping majority will give France a bigger voice, that is to say that it will enable us to forge ahead with the rebuilding of Europe that I have committed to since my election."

The bill is now expected to be rubber-stamped by the Senate on Wednesday (10 October).

Hollande had during his election campaign earlier this year promised to tear up the treaty, before backing down and saying the June EU summit had offset the measures by putting in place a €120 billion package to drive economic growth and job creation.

For his part, Andre Chassaigne, the leader of the left-wing opposition faction in the French lower house, praised the rebels who had chosen to "reject the shackles this austerity treaty imposes on the people of Europe."

He added that the treaty would lead France "towards the abyss of recession."

The vote came against the backdrop or rising concern about the strength of the French economy and unemployment, which has hit a 13-year high.

Two weeks ago Hollande announced a budget of tax rises and spending cuts to plug a €37 billion hole in the country's public finances and to bring the budget deficit down to the 3 per cent limit.

Even this figure is likely to require further revision, after the IMF said on Tuesday the French economy will grow by a meagre 0.4 percent this year, well below the 0.8 percent which Paris had expected and on which it based its cuts. 

The fiscal compact is an intergovernmental treaty which was agreed at an EU summit in December 2011, with Hollande's centre-right predecessor Nikolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel among its main supporters.

It is not part of the EU treaty because the UK and the Czech republic refused to sign up to the deal. It will come into force when 12 of the 17 eurozone countries have ratified it.

Thousands protest against French austerity budget

French President Francois Hollande faced his first serious public backlash after up to 50,000 lined the streets of Paris on Sunday in protest against his €37 billion austerity budget.

Hollande proposes €120bn growth pact

Emboldened by a super-majority in the French parliament, President Hollande has put a figure on his EU "growth pact" - €120 billion.

Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table

EU probes into Hungary and Poland on rule of law and democracy are back on the agenda of EU affairs ministers - but with little guidance from the Romanian presidency, without a clear idea where the procedures are headed.

Calls for Tajani's resignation over Slovenia, Croatia row

The European Parliament's Italian president referred to Croatia and Slovenia as former Italian regions at the weekend, sparking outrage. Although Antonio Tajani apologised, somer former leaders and MEPs are now calling for his resignation.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Opinion

Italy will keep blinking in 2019

Italy's 'marriage of convenience' coalition government likes picking battles with Brussels. But with the economy now in recession, and deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini needing to keep the business lobby on board, expect Rome to blink first.

Opinion

The test for Sweden's new government

While the formation of a new government ends Sweden's fourth-month paralysis, it doesn't resolve the challenge from radical-right populists in Sweden. A key question remains: will treating populists like pariahs undercut the appeal of their, often anti-rights, politics?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us