France’s new president Francois Hollande has held his first meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, hours after his inauguration on Tuesday.
Despite being at odds over the issue of austerity versus growth, the pair promised a joint approach to help eurozone countries turn around their debt-laden economies.
Hollande campaigned in the French election on a pledge to renegotiate the EU’s fiscal pact which forced states to reduce deficits.
“I said in the campaign and I repeat today as President of the Republic that I want to renegotiate the fiscal pact to establish a plan for growth,” said Hollande. “The best method is to put everything on the agenda of our informal EU summit on May 23.”
Despite shunning Hollande during his election campaign on the strength of her relationship with former president Nicolas Sarkozy, Merkel sought to play down their differences.
“The question now is who has what kind of ideas concerning growth. Growth is a general concept; growth needs to reach the people,” said the German chancellor.
“I am glad we have agreed to talk about the various ideas of how to create growth. There will surely be common ground, and maybe there will be the odd differing view. But everything is happening in a way that makes me look forward to our further cooperation,” Merkel added.
The two leaders also said they wanted Greece to stay in the eurozone. Hollande stressed that he wanted to send a message to the Greek people that Europe would help them generate growth.
Hollande’s arrival in Berlin was delayed after his plane was struck by lightening and had to return to Paris. He later took another plane.