German chancellor Angela Merkel says the Merkozy treaty is not renegotiable.
There is just one “slight” hitch: France has not signed the treaty and will not sign the treaty unless it is reworked says François Hollande who on May 6 will in all likelihood replace Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France.
Moreover, Hollande’s demands have gotten steeper and steeper as he inches closer to election.
Please consider Hollande rebukes Berlin over crisis role
François Hollande, the Socialist candidate for the French presidency, has claimed support from across Europe for his demand for a growth plan, saying it was not up to Germany to decide what action should be taken in the face of the eurozone crisis.
With opinion polls predicting he will beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in the run-off vote a week on Sunday, Mr Hollande has stepped up his insistence that he would not ratify the European fiscal discipline treaty without a renegotiation to add a package of growth measures.
In a television appearance on Thursday night, Mr Hollande said: “It is not for Germany to decide for the rest of Europe. I’m getting lots of signals, direct and indirect, from other governments, even if they are conservative.”
Mr Hollande was delighted on Wednesday when Mario Draghi, governor of the European Central Bank, also called for a growth pact to accompany the austerity measures being implemented across Europe, including in France.
But he has made it clear that his growth prescription differs markedly from the market-oriented structural reforms envisaged by Mr Draghi – and endorsed by Ms Merkel.
His immediate demands are for common European project bonds, an increase in investment by the European Investment Bank, better targeting of underused European structural funds and the introduction of a financial transaction tax, all measures Mr Hollande’s camp believes can win widespread backing, including from Germany.
Many think this Hollande’s antics are nothing but election posturing. I am not so sure. After all, what does Hollande have to lose by holding out?
One thing is for sure, and that is eurobonds are not going to fly. Germany will not approve. Will Hollande settle for some meaningless “growth package”?
Does it Matter What France Does?
Short-term, the squabbles and finger-pointing will be far more entertaining if France refuses to sign the treaty. However, given the pathetic state of affairs in Greece, Spain, and Portugal, I fail to see why it really matters in the long-term whether France signs or not. The Eurozone will not last as-is in either case.
That said, the bigger and deeper the squabbles, the sooner Germany many do the right thing for all involved: exit the Eurozone before it splinters led by the Club-Med countries.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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