Merkel ally hits out at Hollande for EU criticism
A leading member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives criticised French President Francois Hollande on Thursday, just hours before Merkel was to meet Hollande.
The attack came from Andreas Schockenhoff who labelled as "inappropriate" remarks by Hollande criticising the European Commission.
Schockenhoff said it was the EU Commission's "obligatory duty" to submit reform proposals because of France's importance in Europe.
"Hollande's criticism is, in this respect, inappropriate," Schockenhoff, the conservative grouping's deputy chairman in the Bundestag lower house of parliament, said in a written statement.
On Wednesday, Hollande had said that the European Commission could not "dictate" orders after it called on Paris to step up reforms and overhaul its costly pension system, giving Paris more time to trim its deficit but urging haste.
"Hollande's severe reaction shows the considerable desperation that, one year after coming to power, his government has still not found effective answers to the economic and fiscal problems of their country," Schockenhoff said.
He added that Hollande's criticism contradicted the "spirit and letter" of European agreements and treaties. "Whoever talks that way shakes the foundations of the EU," he said.
Meanwhile, a leading member of Merkel's junior coalition partners the pro-business Free Democrats, Rainer Bruederle, told Thursday's Rheinische Post newspaper that Socialist Hollande's first 12 months as president had been a "lost year".
Europe cannot "wait any longer for France," added Bruederle, who is party parliamentary leader, insisting on the need for France to implement reforms to strengthen competitiveness.
Merkel and Hollande meet later to hammer out a common position on combating spiralling youth unemployment in the eurozone ahead of a European Union summit at the end of June.
Earlier European Union Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier, a former conservative minister in France, said that the Commission, in detailing on Wednesday reforms which France should introduce, was not laying down a "diktat", but but making recommendations on what had to done.
Otherwise, he warned, France risked decline and becoming a sub-contractor to the United States or China.
© 2013 AFP