EU political union after 'urgent' response to crisis: France

8th June 2012, Comments 0 comments

France backs deeper political union in Europe but this must come only after urgent measures are put in place to deal with the debt crisis, Europe Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told AFP on Friday.

Responding to calls on Thursday from German Chancellor Angela Merkel for closer political integration, he said that "institutional reform cannot come before the urgent responses the crisis calls for".

Deepening political integration "cannot be considered without the support of the people and this support will be impossible as long as the EU has not demonstrated its capacity to bring responses to the crisis", said Cazeneuve. The German leader, who has been criticised for staunch opposition to some proposals to resolve the eurozone debt crisis, said she would work towards a reinforced political union with willing partner states even if that meant a two-speed approach.

European Union leaders are under intense pressure from their populations to take action to break the back of the two year-old crisis at a June 28-29 summit in Brussels.

French President Francois Hollande came to power last month with promises to add growth to the austerity measures put in place to battle the debt crisis, but he and Merkel disagree on how to resolve the crisis.

France, Spain, Italy and the European Commission are in favour of so-called eurobonds, which would see eurozone countries borrow jointly and is seen as a way of driving down the high borrowing costs of struggling nations.

But Germany has reiterated that eurobonds are not the solution to the current crisis and could only be considered "after several years" of steps towards greater integration.

Cazeneuve said Friday that he hoped that the June summit would produce a "roadmap" for the eurobond issue.

"The discussion between France and Germany today is less about whether we need to put in place eurobonds but rather about the moment when they should be put in place," he said.

US President Barak Obama has exhorted Europe to lighten up on extreme austerity programmes -- the approach to the crisis pushed by Germany -- and give the troubled economies room to grow and generate jobs.

Merkel has sought to play down expectations of the June 28-29 meeting, saying she did not believe "that one summit is capable of settling everything in one fell swoop."

© 2012 AFP

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