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Dec 13, 2011
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France is serial loser in unfolding euro drama

By Pierre Briancon
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Once again Nicolas Sarkozy has made the world believe he scored a great success at a European summit. But once again, this was thanks to diverting attention away from the substance of the talks to a third-party drama where he played the tough guy. In the latest instance, he used the opportunity provided by the unprecedented diplomatic amateurishness of a UK prime minister. Sarkozy may have fooled pundits and part of French opinion. But the bigger truth is that France has lost to Germany on all the important arguments about how best to fight the euro crisis.

Dec 12, 2011
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Euro zone gets tighter as Europe splits further

By Pierre Briancon
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

In the end, it was neither a bazooka nor a breakup. Those who expected more drama from the euro zone summit may find the potentially far-reaching fiscal reforms agreed by its leaders rather pedestrian. The long-term plan does not address investors’ immediate concerns about some countries’ debt burdens. But together with improved bailout resources, and the European Central Bank’s support of the banking sector, the package could give governments time to prove they have become serious. If, that is, they start implementing the plan quickly.

Dec 9, 2011
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Draghi pours cold water on euro zone grand bargain

By Pierre Briancon and Neil Unmack
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

We’ll take care of the banks; you deal with your debt. That’s the stern message European Central Bank President Mario Draghi chose to send to euro zone governments on the eve of their high-stake summit. By insisting repeatedly on the “spirit” of the European Union’s founding treaties, Draghi has scotched any speculation that the central bank could save the single currency by stepping up its sovereign bond-buying programme.

Dec 8, 2011
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Putin’s Russia may not be so stable after all

By Pierre Briancon
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Any reports of Vladimir Putin’s demise are premature, but alarm bells have started ringing in the Kremlin. It’s only-in-Russia irony – the Russian prime minister’s governing party has just lost a parliamentary election that it rigged. This reinforces the feeling that it can’t even manage autocracy properly. But it also emboldens protesters who can rightly surmise what the result would have been if fraud hadn’t been so obviously massive. The conventional wisdom about the Putin regime has been that it was stable and, partly because of that, popular. The fact that it’s not that popular could soon make it less stable. It may be time for investors to take notice.

Dec 7, 2011
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S&P warning won’t change euro zone equation

By Pierre Briancon
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Standard & Poor’s mass warning was spectacular, but its impact will be limited. The rating agency is threatening to downgrade all the euro zone’s members – with the exception of Greece and Cyprus, which could hardly be punished further – if leaders don’t come up with a credible plan at their summit this week. S&P’s statement may add a little pressure, but it doesn’t change the terms of the euro zone equation. Governments must show that they are serious about fiscal reform in order to clear the way for the European Central Bank to put out the most urgent fires.

Nov 29, 2011
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France isn’t ready for recession

By Pierre Briançon
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

France may pay a heavy price for 37 uninterrupted years of budget deficits. Even after two significant rounds of fiscal tightening in the last three months, the government may fall short of its goal of shrinking the deficit to the euro zone-imposed limit of 3 percent by 2013. Markets are already impatient with the country’s half-hearted approach to tackling its structural primary budget deficit. They are likely to become harsher if high government bond yields across the monetary union tip the region’s economy into a recession next year.

Nov 28, 2011
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Italy shakes off the Berlusconi stigma

By Pierre Briançon
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

France and Germany are going out of their way to show how the change of Italian prime minister has changed the way they treat Italy. The Nov. 24 three-way meeting between Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and Mario Monti seems mostly designed to demonstrate that Rome is back in the top troika, after months of conflicts over the reforms needed to get Italy out of its funk. The fresh diplomatic context doesn’t solve Italy’s problems. But it will help strengthen Monti at home, as he tries to push through difficult reforms.

Nov 22, 2011
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France, Germany could agree on ECB’s euro role

By Pierre Briançon
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Everyone is a back-seat central banker in the euro zone these days. Well-wishers are flooding Mario Draghi, the new president of the European Central Bank, with advice on how to rid the world of its misery. French government officials have joined the chorus, insisting that the ECB should be “part of the solution” to the euro crisis. So far the ECB is sticking to its longstanding line – it is up to governments to sort out the mess they created. Germany agrees. This doesn’t mean it is on a collision course with France. A deal could even be in the works.

Jul 20, 2011
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Three questions the Greek debt summit must answer

By Pierre Briançon
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

LONDON — The best signal that the euro zone may be nearing a Greek debt deal is that its leaders have decided to hold a summit. With investors questioning Europe’s determination to tackle its debt problems, ending the high-profile meeting on an inconclusive note would be unconscionable. But how should success be gauged? That depends on the answer to three key questions.

May 23, 2011
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Lagarde is wrong choice to head IMF

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

By Pierre Briançon

Speaking fluent English and being European shouldn’t be the only two qualities required of a managing director of the International Monetary Fund. Yet some of the IMF’s major shareholders — many European members, probably the United States, and possibly China — seem to agree that Christine Lagarde should head the institution now that Dominique Strauss-Kahn has resigned. Yet after four years spent as French finance minister, it’s hard to see what qualifies her for this job, save for fawning by the international media.

    • About Pierre

      "Pierre Briançon is Reuters Breakingviews' Paris correspondent. He joined Breakingviews.com in 2006, after heading the Dow Jones Newswires Paris Bureau Chief for three years. Previously, he had been: business editor of Libération, then the newspaper's Moscow and Washington correspondent; deputy editor of L’Expansion; and a producer/columnist for French radio and TV. He is also the author of Messier Story (2002), on the fall of Vivendi’s former chief executive, Héritiers du désastre (1992) on the collapse of the Soviet Union, and San Quentin Jazz Band (2008)."
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