Sarkozy urges cooperation on French budget rule

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged lawmakers on Tuesday to make an effort to rein in France's deficit and make a success of the emergency debt measures he helped pass to save the eurozone.

Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the lead among eurozone leaders last week in thrashing out a bailout deal and reforms to the European financial system to rescue Greece from bankruptcy and stabilise the euro.

"To succeed in this endeavour, to lead our partners with us ... France must set an example by putting in order its public accounts and economy," he wrote in a letter to all members of both houses of parliament on Tuesday.

"In France in the coming months we need to unite on essential issues and get over partisan interests."

Sarkozy's call sets him up for a showdown with the opposition Socialists who oppose his efforts to change France's constitution to oblige governments to keep a rigorously balanced public budget.

A source close to the government who asked not to be named warned that France's credit rating could suffer if Sarkozy were forced to call a special assembly to pass the budget law.

"France is the weakest of the AAA-rated countries" -- a reference to its top credit rating, the source warned.

© 2011 AFP

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