Fiscal pact not up for discussion: Merkel
‘I believe the fiscal pact is correct’ German Chancellor Angela Merkel says. AP photoGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated yesterday the EU’s fiscal pact, aimed at reducing ballooning deficits, was not up for discussion after president-elect François Hollande said he will revise the pact to focus more on growth.
“I believe the fiscal pact is correct and secondly I think that we can’t simply re-open for discussion everything we have already agreed after an election in a small or big country,” she said. All this would be discussed with Hollande in a “friendly fashion” when he visits Berlin, Merkel said, adding: “For me, it’s about the future of Europe.”
Open arms to Hollande
In his victory speech on May 6, Hollande promised to carry through on his promise to revise the hard-won EU stability pact to focus more on growth than cuts. During the campaign, Hollande won few friends in Berlin by criticizing Merkel’s insistence on austerity as the way out of the eurozone debt crisis, seeking to shift the focus to growth. Merkel also she would welcome Hollande “with open arms” when he visits Berlin after his inauguration next week, Agence France-Presse reported. She said they agreed during a phone call on May 6 to work “well and intensively” together, adding: “Franco-German cooperation is essential for Europe and we all want Europe to succeed.”
Merkel said Hollande would visit the German capital shortly after his inauguration as president, expected to take place on May 15, without giving a date for the much-awaited meeting. On Greece, Merkel said that it was “of utmost importance” that Greece stick to the reform course agreed in exchange for an EU-IMF bailout, despite a voter backlash.
“It is of course of utmost importance that the programs we agreed with Greece continue,” Merkel told reporters, speaking about Greek election which saw a stunning result for anti-austerity parties. Also yesterday, Merkel’s Christian Democrats grabbed only about 30 percent of the vote in polls for the small state of Schleswig-Holstein, a setback ahead of national elections in 2013. Her junior partners at the national level, the Free Democrats (FDP), won 8.3 percent. However, the opposition Social Democrats and Greens also failed to gain sufficient support to form a government.