After ruffling French feathers just after the election of François Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron made sure the red carpet treatment was on hand for the new French president’s first visit to Britain.
A gulf divides the two men; Cameron wants budgetary rigour and austerity, Hollande growth and job creation. But the Frenchman appears to see the limitations for Britain and others of the EU’s “one size fits all” policies.
“We should see Europe as having different speeds, taking what it wants from the union, and each can act at its own speed, while respecting the other countries, and this is the way to build a relationship of trust and a strong relationship,” said Hollande.
“France is an essential and valued partner of Britain. Our economies are closely interwoven. French companies employ 180,000 people across the United Kingdom. And we export more to France than to China, India, Japan and Turkey combined,” insisted Cameron.
Beyond talks about the eurocrisis and economics, Syria and Afghanistan are high on the agenda, along with nuclear co-operation, and Hollande also enjoys a private meeting with Her Majesty the Queen during the visit.