Disagreements with Germany over Europe could spell big trouble
Written by Charles Grant, 17 November 2012
Charles Grant of the CER believes that he [Mr Hollande] is trying to strengthen his position relative to Germany in three ways. One is to forge stronger links with Mediterranean countries, especially Italy and Spain, to form a block that could help to counter Mrs Merkel. Naturally that has upset her. Mr Sarkozy preferred to stick closely to Mrs Merkel (hence the label "Merkozy"), not least to identify France with the north and keep the markets happy. Mr Hollande likes to straddle both sides: as his Europe minister puts it, France is the hyphen in Europe’s north-south division.
Second, Mr Hollande wants to meet the targets set in the European fiscal-compact treaty, which the French parliament has just ratified. And third, he is aiming to raise the French economy’s performance by improving its competitiveness. But it will take long and hard toil for France to regain its economic and financial clout when measured against Germany.