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Merkel makes nice to new French president

The Local · 7 May 2012, 07:43

Published: 07 May 2012 07:43 GMT+02:00

Merkel, who had publicly called for fellow conservative Nicolas Sarkozy to win the election, phoned Hollande to congratulate him, with both leaders stressing the importance of close Franco-German relations for Europe.

"The chancellor invited the French president-elect Hollande to come to Berlin as soon as possible after his inauguration," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a short statement following the phone call between the pair.

"Both agreed how important close Franco-German relations were and assured each other that they would strive for good and trusting cooperation," Seibert added.

The statement gave no date for a possible meeting of the two, but Hollande's inauguration is expected to be around May 15.

Hollande's campaign manager Pierre Moscovici had said earlier that France's new leader would take up the invitation "quickly after his inauguration".

Earlier Sunday, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle hailed Hollande's election as an "historic event".

Speaking to reporters at the French embassy in Berlin, Westerwelle sought to allay fears that a change of power in Paris would put the brakes on the Franco-German motor that has driven Europe through the crisis.

"We will work together on a growth pact" for the embattled European economy, Westerwelle said - referring to a key campaign theme for Hollande that had irked Berlin, as it placed more emphasis on austerity as a way out of the crisis.

“I have no doubt that we will rise to our common challenges," Westerwelle added.

He also said he looked forward to a "close partnership" between the two nations.

"I am confident the Franco-German friendship will be further deepened," Westerwelle said, adding that Europe was at its most effective when its two strongest economies stood together.

The French campaign was dominated by a debate over whether austerity, demanded by Germany, or growth, pushed by Hollande, was the best tonic for the ailing eurozone.

Hollande won few friends in Berlin by criticising the chancellor's insistence on austerity as the way out of the crisis.

Since then, both camps have sought to smooth ruffled feathers, with Merkel shifting her crisis-fighting rhetoric more towards growth and Hollande advisors stressing the importance of Franco-German friendship.

Hollande has always stressed that his first foreign visit would be to Germany.

Story continues below…

Merkel formed such a close partnership with Sarkozy, especially at European level, that the pair was dubbed "Merkozy".

But although Merkel would undoubtedly have preferred her conservative ally to win the election, many analysts believe that her understated style is more similar to that of her new French partner.

She has gone out of her way to stress that she would work well with whoever won the election and that Franco-German friendship transcends personality.

AFP/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

10:46 May 7, 2012 by smart2012
What else could she do???? Yesterday's elections (France / Greece / even North of Germany) are a clear sign of how Merkozy's strategy has failed. And today all stocks are going down. Until Frau Merkel will not play a partnership role within EU (rather than a bossing around role) EU will fail.

And PS: until last year Germany and Greece were the best friends, with greece buying armaments from Germany (just to please German governement), and after that Greece became the biggest problem of EU (cause German banks are exposed there), while before noone cared about portugal and Ireland going bankrupt... Well done Merkel!!!
11:43 May 7, 2012 by pepsionice
Just an obvious comment. Almost every single country in Europe has serious economic problems....EXCEPT Germany. If you notice the unemployment rate....most countries would be begging to be like Germany. So everyone dumps on Merkel because Germany ought to look and feel like the other countries....the ones with bad economies.

As for France? Well....we know what the stimulus strategy does to an economy (gazing at the US).....so go figure higher unemployment for France and more taxation toward companies and rich folks. It'll take about three years for everyone to figure this out and point the blame back at the new guy who came on board.
12:01 May 7, 2012 by McM
As an outsider I tend to agree with the last comment.

But, I guess you can't use reason and logic to enlighten those that have arrived at their specific special interest group political positions and free lunch politics if they haven't arrived there via reasoned contemplation.

Frau Dr.Merkel would seem far too pragmatic for such emotive based positions in the current EU political spectrum. On reflection over the past few years I think the Germans are lucky she was at their helm!
13:08 May 7, 2012 by Prufrock2010
Merkel backed the wrong horse, once again.

And we all know, if we are paying attention, what an austerity strategy does to a depressed economy (gazing at the EU and the US). In a word, it is catastrophic. Let's hope that the EU now comes to its senses and abandons its misguided and disastrous austerity policies in favor of growth.
13:24 May 7, 2012 by smart2012
@pepsionice please do not blindly believe in populistic newspapers like Build. germany is in trouble too... 20% of people do not reach minimum salary for living, 0 growth, big companies firing almost every week (Lufthansa/Thyssenkrup/Siemens/Opel/Schlecter/Q cell) etc etc..

read below

http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,830972,00.html

And Merkel then sghould be clear: if u believe u can make it on your own, then get out of EU
17:54 May 7, 2012 by siba
@ smart2012: yes, the gap between the rich and the poor grows but germany is is still a relatively generous welfare state and poverty is little compared to the US. The conclusion of this spiegel article, to flexibilize the job market in favor of companies, this is just another neoliberal idea which would bring Europe closer to the disastreous situation of workers in the US. What is needed is a minimum wage for ALL jobs, then the problem is solved. Apart from that, Germany is doing well, unemployment is further decreasing, the prospects for economy are positive and the social security system has a big plus due to the high employment rate.

@ pepsionice: Not only Germany is doing quite well, also all Scandinavian countries, Austria and the NL. Although they make a big part of the EU, they are never mentioned in the media.
19:27 May 7, 2012 by Eastard
Governments don't fix global economic problems thru austerity or stimulus... People fix these problems... by working and not mikling public systems. Going to work is less important that working at work... France made some difficult decisions regarding their business's ability to dischare an employee... That was good. Somehow the public must learn to work with change. France cannot fix their problems by finding someone else to milk (the rich)...

If they pursue this plan, money will leave France by the truckload... Probably already is... Regarding Merkle... She has represented Germany, who is footing much of the bill for other countires... and I beleive is entitled to whatever direction she requires... It is clear that most of the countries that are in need have fiscal management issues as well as public policy issues...
19:43 May 7, 2012 by Al uk
@ Easterd isn't a lot of Germany's success down to having an artificially low currency and interest rate, created by tying in lesser economies to stronger ones thus condeming the lesser economies to need bailing out?
20:40 May 7, 2012 by smart2012
Siba, if u compare to USA then yes, all eu is better than US (health/schools/retirement) But justifying that Germany is doing pretty well even if 20% of people do not have a salary allowing them to survive, I think does not work. And about unemployment, Germany invented the system that if u r inscribed to a temporary agency u r not unemployed, even if u do not work.. This does not make sense to me... That is why I think this is a false dream which will show the gaps soon (btw demonstrated by the election results). Thanks to the French that r not blind :)
23:57 May 7, 2012 by siba
smart2012: Don't get me wrong, I am happy about Holland's victory and I am in favor of social-democratic governments. I am not a fan of Merkel though I think that she is the most "social-democratic" conservative in german history and thus did not turn back the clocks. though, austerity won't solve the problem... so good to bring in some movement with hollande. But you picture everything too negative. One problem in Germany - as in the rest of the western world - is the growing gap between rich and poor. There is also no country in the world where people save more money than in Germany... So there is RELATIVE poverty on the one hand - and growing wealth on the other hand.

and it is the same in all western countries, if people do further education they are not availabel on the job market and therefore are not counted as unemployed. there are internationally defined indicators which exactly define what unemployment is! however, germany does not have any unemployment problem, on the contrary, there is an urgend need of MORE qualified workers in many fields. so that is why germany builds up networks with employment agencies in other countries and introduces the blue card...

The arbeitsagentur (public agency for the jobless), they limited their services and the further education programs drastically because there is no work for them anymore...

and the social security system (like the health insurances) got so much money due to the increasing number of working (means tax paying people) that they argue now if they have to give it back to the people or it has to be invested in the future.... so many things work well. but as always, the picture is not black/white... but for germany the trend is positive compared to 10 years ago when germany was the sick man of europe.
11:26 May 8, 2012 by AlexR
@pepsionice: "Almost every single country in Europe has serious economic problems....EXCEPT Germany."

And why is this happening? Why after 10 years into the Eurozone, every single country has problems except Germany? You seem to think that this is solely because of the policies of Merkel & Co. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Why the rest of the Eurozone countries were doing better before they've entered the common currency? Why Germany was doing worse at the same time? Did suddenly the people of those countries became lazy and their governments inefficient while the people of Germany started working harder while the German government became super efficient?

Nothing of the above has happened. The main reason of the German "success" (which is not even a real success -just read the Spiegel article posted by @smart2012) is the "failure" of the other Eurozone countries. I just quote the comments of @Al_uk:

"isn't a lot of Germany's success down to having an artificially low currency and interest rate, created by tying in lesser economies to stronger ones thus condeming the lesser economies to need bailing out?"

It's Economy 101 when it comes to any currency union.
14:35 May 8, 2012 by Peepopaapo
Let us all face the mere fact that France - in contrast to Germany - is not in the economic position to make any claims. The pact will stay at it is - "pacta sunt servanda", but there will most like be a second pact for more growth. Now the question is how this second pact will look like. Hollande wants to create growth by making more and more debts what will have a fast effect, but won't be sustainable. Merkel on the other side wants to create growth by structural reforms what will take longer to have any effect, but will evetually be sustaiable.

@ AlexR: As far as I know Austria, the Netherlands and Finland as siba already stated are doing quite well at the moment in spite of being in the Euro.

The PIGS used to live way beyond their means while - once the "sick man of Europe" - Germany became the "strong man of Europe" because of massive reforms via Agenda 2010 initiated by Gerhard Schroeder (although I am actually conservative I have to admit that what the SPD or to be more precise Gerhard Schroeder did at that particular time was the right thing). This right Agenda 2010 was eventually the reason why he lost his power in 2005, because these measures were actually very hard, but in the end brought Germany to where it is now.

Best regards
18:35 May 12, 2012 by eddyjacobsen
We are so sorry Mr Sarkozy; soon the burkas are back in the streets....Hollande is as socialists as such, we assume: normal-ofobs!! Identidy-piranhas!!
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