EU leaders to discuss elections fallout


EUROPEAN COUNCIL president Herman Van Rompuy has called EU leaders to discuss the fallout from the Greek and French elections and the increasing clamour for new measures to boost growth in Europe’s recession-struck economies.

The informal summit on May 23rd follows the election of socialist leader François Hollande as French president. He campaigned against the “inevitability” of austerity and wants to put growth at the top of the political agenda.

While German chancellor Angela Merkel is resisting Mr Hollande’s push to reopen the fiscal treaty, the president-elect countered yesterday to say Berlin must take account of the rising demand for measures to promote growth.

Mr Hollande’s campaign to change the treaty is already creating problems for the Irish Government, where the No camp in the referendum argues that the people are being asked to vote on a pact that is set to be changed. However, a senior European source said it remained unclear whether the incoming president would accept a new growth initiative that would not necessarily be added to the treaty in a binding protocol.

EU economics commissioner Olli Rehn declared that the debate of consolidation versus growth was a false one. “In the current economic situation of low growth and high debt there is no choice – we need to pursue both simultaneously.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he supports the “growth agenda” of the new French president.“I welcome his statement from the point of view that Ireland and other countries have been talking about this agenda for some months.”

Mr Kenny added that he had spoken to Mr Van Rompuy on Sunday and urged him to hold a summit meeting on a growth agenda, “but there are issues that are clearly not in Ireland’s interests, including changes to corporation tax rates.”

EU Commission president José Manuel Barroso said there was no scope for any recipients of an EU-IMF bailout to deviate from policies to consolidate their public finances.

Preparations for the summit are overshadowed by the uncertain political outlook in Greece. The leader of the second-placed party said the outcome meant Greece’s commitments to austerity are no longer valid.