PARIS/BERLIN, May 15 (Reuters) – New French President
Francois Hollande called for a European pact for growth to
balance out German-driven austerity measures in his inaugural
address on Tuesday, hours before taking his challenge to
Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
Sworn in with all the pomp of the French Republic, Hollande
won support from Germany’s opposition Social Democrats (SPD),
who vowed to use their parliamentary blocking power to delay
ratifying a European budget discipline treaty until Merkel
accepts accompanying measures to boost growth and jobs.
“I will propose to our partners a pact that will tie the
necessary reduction of our public debt to the indispensable
stimulation of our economies,” the Socialist president said in
his 10-minute maiden speech.
Hollande’s inauguration with military honours, capped by an
open-topped motorcade ride up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de
Triomphe in torrential rain, marks a potential turning point in
the euro zone’s debt crisis amid a deepening political crisis in
Greece, Europe’s most pressing debt headache.
Euro zone finance ministers dismissed talk of Greece leaving
the 17-nation currency area as “propaganda and nonsense” on
Monday. But with the country facing the likelihood of a repeat
general election that leftist anti-bailout parties believe they
can win, speculation about a possible Greek exit is rattling
financial markets and won’t go away.