French, German opposition counter 'Merkozy' talks

5th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

French and German opposition parties met here Monday, several hours ahead of a huddle in Paris of their conservative political rivals Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy.

While the German and French leaders face the task of nailing down a euro-saving solution, France's Socialist Party presidential candidate Francois Hollande was invited to address Germany's Social Democrats.

Gathered for their three-day party conference in Berlin, the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) is debating the policies, including on Europe, it hopes will carry it to power in 2013 elections.

"I will do everything to provide the first act, while waiting for you to provide the second...," Hollande told delegates to applause, switching to German: "We will do it together, Germany and France. We'll win together."

Merkel and Sarkozy kick off a decisive week for the future of the euro at a working lunch later where they have vowed to propose European Union treaty changes to resolve the crisis.

Hollande, leading Sarkozy in opinion polls for the May 2012 presidential race, criticised the handling of the euro crisis by the French and German leaders, calling for a "balance" in Franco-German relations.

SPD chief Sigmar Gabriel echoed his comments, saying Merkel's centre-right coalition government had shown for two years "how to worsen the crisis rather than how to resolve it".

On the European Central Bank's role in fighting the sovereign debt crisis, a thorny subject in Germany which vehemently opposes the bank becoming a lender of last resort, Hollande chose his words carefully.

"I respect its independence," he said, but added: "I would like it to be more attentive to the situation of our real economy.

"I want it to be able to widen its role as lender and intervene in a measured way against speculation in the framework of its current statutes."

© 2011 AFP

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