Hollande to clash with Merkel in maiden EU summit

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Hollande to clash with Merkel in maiden EU summit

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François Hollande faced a likely showdown with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday at his first EU summit as president of France.

The two disagree on how to restore economic growth to the eurozone. Pressure is mounting on Berlin to climb down from its hardline stance on austerity.

Merkel also opposes Hollande’s support for eurobonds, which would jointly pool the sovereign debt of all countries that use the single currency.

She fears Germany would be expected to underwrite the 17-member zone’s weaker economies.

Hollande has support from Italy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

No concrete decisions are expected to emerge from the summit, but EU leaders will debate various ideas aimed at creating jobs and boosting output.

The heads of state and government will also discuss the ongoing Greek crisis and how to stabilise Europe’s stricken banks.

The next summit of all 27 EU members is expected to be held at the end of June.