Germany and France at odds as euro falls
EU leaders sought to advance a new plan to stimulate economic growth as Germany and France laid out opposing strategies to tackle the debt crisis, raising fresh questions about Europe’s ability to overcome the debacle.
At an emergency summit last night in Brussels, the leaders were introduced to the new French president, François Hollande, and Greek caretaker premier Panagiotis Pikrammenos.
Mr Hollande said he raised the possibility of introducing eurobonds with a common euro zone guarantee as well as the granting of new powers to the European Stability Mechanism bailout fund to directly rescue banks.
He insisted he was not alone in backing eurobonds, long resisted by Dr Merkel, but recognised tough opposition to the notion from leaders he did not name.
“I noted that a number of countries were totally hostile, others considered this in the long term and yet other countries considered that it could be feasible at a closer date,” he said shortly before 2am this morning.
“It is not for me to speak on behalf of Germany but what I noted is that Mrs Merkel does not consider eurobonds to be an element of growth but as a long-term integration perspective.”
For her part, the chancellor said there was a difference of opinion on this topic but said the discussion was very balanced.
“We spoke differently about eurobonds. I said we need greater economic co-ordination in eurozone and that we see considerable difficulties when we think of the fiscal treaty what possibilities exist to shape the treaties,” she said.
On this point she was supported by European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, who said eurobonds made sense “only when you have a fiscal union”.
Mr Draghi said the most important thing to emerge from the meeting was a “commitment to move economic and monetary union to new stages.”
He and the German and French leaders were speaking separately to reporters after a summit in which EU leaders sought to advance a new plan to stimulate economic growth.
“It was a very positive meeting with momentum palpable for leaders to produce an agenda for growth,” Taoiseach Enda Kenny said.
He said it was clear from the meeting that the treaty Irish people will be voting on next Thursday was not going to be changed and that anything agreed in respect of the growth agenda would be additional.
Officials had played down expectation of any definitive agreement on growth last night and said a deal was unlikely before the next summit, at end the end of June.