Royal sees much in common with Merkel

7th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

BERLIN, March 6, 2007 (AFP) - French Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal said here on Tuesday she had agreed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that struggling aircraft maker Airbus must be "defended".

BERLIN, March 6, 2007 (AFP) - French Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal said here on Tuesday she had agreed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that struggling aircraft maker Airbus must be "defended".

The talks between Royal, who is seeking to become the first female French president, and Germany's first woman chancellor were dominated by the future of the once high-flying joint European project which has announced job cuts and factory closures in a rescue plan.

"We share the same concern to maintain jobs, competitiveness and productivity and to defend the European aeronautical venture," Royal said.

They agreed it was particularly important to defend the company's "research capacities", Royal said.

But she admitted that Merkel had given no commitment on injecting more public money into Airbus, which last week said it planned to shed 10,000 jobs over four years, including 4,300 in France and 3,700 in Germany.

"Angela Merkel ruled nothing out but she did not take up a position," Royal said.

She added however that the chancellor "shared the concern to properly understand the industrial stakes without interfering in the economic management of the company."

Merkel did not comment after the meeting.

Royal and her rival for the presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy, have suggested this week that the state should help Airbus.

French Finance Minister Thierry Breton said that although parent company EADS had plenty of cash for about four years, he hoped it would raise new funds and the government would participate.

On Tuesday thousands of French Airbus workers marched through Toulouse, the company's French headquarters, in protest at the planned job cuts.

Royal said her talks with Merkel, a conservative who heads a fragile coalition government, had been "very warm".

"I don't see any divergences with her, we got on very well. What I like about her is her courageous side. She is a very pragmatic woman."

Royal said on Monday that if she were elected she hoped to restore "the lost initiative" of the French-German relationship. The two countries are often referred to as the "motor" of the European Union.

Germany has made reviving the European constitution one of the priorities of its current presidency of the EU despite its rejection by French and Dutch voters.

Royal proposed this week that the text should be rewritten, renamed a treaty rather than a constitution and put to a referendum before European elections in 2009.

Without mentioning the constitution by name, Royal said she and Merkel "have the same point of view on relaunching the European project".

"Before seeking the opinions (in a referendum), Europe must prove itself in the fields of research, environment, health and public authorities and show that it is useful and efficient," Royal said.

German government officials have grumbled behind closed doors that a watered-down version of the constitution would fail to provide a coherent framework for a growing bloc.

The latest polls show that Royal would lose to Sarkozy in a run-off.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article