France's Former PM Warns Hollande Against 'Clumsy' Attacks on Germany's Merkel

By @ibtimesau on

Former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has warned President Francois Hollande to rein in his "clumsy" attacks on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, adding that the economic policy divergence between both countries is now so wide that it risks damaging the previously close relationship forged by Sarkozy and Merkel.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Fillon, who is vying for the leadership of France's main opposition UMP party, said Hollande was acting as if Merkel has already lost next year's election.

According to Fillon, Hollande has deliberately distanced himself from the previously-close relationship between the two nations, forged in the fires of the financial crisis between Merkel and Sarkozy, and instead chose align himself with Merkel's political opponents ahead of next year's German elections.

"He doesn't cease playing on her electoral defeat. He acts as if she is already defeated. He thinks he is attacking Ms Merkel but Germans take it as an attack on Germany as a whole," Fillon said.

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Both leaders are known to disagree over how to save the eurozones. Merkel is often portrayed as an inflexible but disciplined advocate of austerity and Hollande has, on more than one occasion, accused Germany of dragging its feet on deepening economic integration within the eurozone.

In an interview with European media last month, Hollande launched a thinly-veiled attack on Merkel:

It has not escaped my notice that those who are most eager to talk about political union are sometimes those who are most reticent about taking urgent decisions that would make it inevitable.

Fillon also said the lack of action on economic reforms is damaging Franco-German relations, which can have wider implications on the eurozone economy. He said:

Relations between France and Germany are being damaged because there is too great a divergence between the economic policy of France and the policy of Germany.

"French economic policy worries the Germans. It is totally the contrary to their own. Nothing is happening. There are no structural reforms," Fillon added.

Hollande, who assumed power in May, has promised a "trajectory" of socioeconomic reforms over his five-year term, but has yet to introduce any economic reforms other than hefty tax hikes on wealth and businesses.

Highlighting the urgent need for economic reforms, Fillon said "France in recession means the whole eurozone could topple. If you add up the recession in Greece, Italy and Spain, and a recession in France, that could mean a bad tilt in the centre of gravity in the European economy."

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