Taking his own stand on solutions to the euro zone crisis, France’s new leader Francois Hollande has found a firm ally in the head of Italy’s government.
On a visit to Rome, Hollande and Prime Minister Mario Monti agreed more steps must be taken to shield the euro from financial market turbulence. For them, German-inspired austerity is not enough and growth is also needed.
“I don’t want Europe seen as a sick continent,” President Hollande told reporters in a joint news conference with Monti.
“We have economic power. We are a group of countries with a great history, with all the conditions to secure our future but we, ourselves, must make efforts.”
However many of the measures being suggested by France’s Socialist President put him on a collision course with the conservative Chancellor in Berlin. These include euro bonds to mutualise European debt, an idea rejected as counterproductive by Angela Merkel.
After a European rescue package for its crisis-hit banking sector, Spain, meanwhile, now faces an uphill battle to avoid a full-scale sovereign bailout. Many in the indebted country are increasingly angry at its deep-rooted economic woes such as chronically high unemployment and house evictions.