Politicians and commentators took to the web, airwaves and newspapers on Wednesday with contrasting views on the proposals announced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday evening.

"/> Politicians and commentators took to the web, airwaves and newspapers on Wednesday with contrasting views on the proposals announced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday evening.

" />


Sarkozy gets mixed reviews after summit

Politicians and commentators took to the web, airwaves and newspapers on Wednesday with contrasting views on the proposals announced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday evening.

Sarkozy gets mixed reviews after summit
Kenji-Baptiste Oikawa (file)

The two leaders pledged to give the eurozone bloc a “true economic government” but refused to back the issue of eurobonds and said the existing €440 billion bail-out fund was “sufficient.”

“The president has shown again his determination to sort out the economic problems that Europe is currently facing and to defend both Europeans and the French,” said the general secretary of the the president’s UMP party, Jean-François Copé, in a statement.  

Not surprisingly, the two leading candidates in the current Socialist party race to be the party’s presidential candidate were less complimentary.

Current frontrunner François Hollande said the decision not to issue eurobonds was a “huge step back.” In an interview with Le Parisien newspaper he said the president had “surrendered” on the issue.

“Until now, the French position was to push for the creation of this instrument, while the Germans were reticent,” he said.

“The head of state has now totally fallen into line with the German position by criticizing eurobonds on the grounds that they will weaken the important states, as in France and Germany. This surrender will cost the euro deeply.”

Speaking to TV channel i-télé, his party rival Martine Aubry agreed with Hollande on eurobonds and said she had expected a “doubling” of the bail-out fund as well as measures to jump-start growth. 

Far right-wing Front National leader, Marine Le Pen, who has campaigned consistently for a French withdrawal from the euro, was characteristically scathing.

“This summit had only one objective: to determine how France and Germany can share the burden of the euro crisis,” she said in a statement. She added the pair were trying to “work out how many new tens of billions of euros France and Germany will pour in to try to bail out the countries that have been victims of the euro.”

Most of the French press took a critical view of the proposals, with the exception of Le Figaro, which traditionally supports President Sarkozy.

In an editorial strongly supporting the call for balanced budgets and a stronger governance of the eurozone, the newspaper said the president had found an ally in the German chancellor in his wish to insert a “golden rule” in the French constitution which would require governments to pass balanced budgets.

The left-of-centre Libération was more critical. Under the headline “a conservative summit” the newspaper wrote that the outcome was “good intentions but no shock announcements that would tame the markets.”

Regional newspaper L’Alsace, agreed that markets had not been mollified. Leader writer Patrick Fluckiger said that while “the Sarkozy-Merkel meeting led to a rally in the euro against the dollar for a few minutes, the soufflé quickly collapsed.”

“The only thing that seems clear at the end of this new summit,” wrote Fluckiger, “is the inability to deal with the problem.”

Wednesday’s Le Monde carried an interview with global financier George Soros, who told the newspaper “Europe is in danger.”

“There’s no choice but to improve governance in the eurozone,” he said. “The question isn’t whether it’s right to have a single currency. The euro exists and if it collapses it will cause a banking crisis totally out of control. The world will be plunged into a deep recession.”

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Sleep, seaside, potato soup: What will Merkel do next?

 After 16 years in charge of Europe's biggest economy, the first thing Angela Merkel wants to do when she retires from politics is take "a little nap". But what about after that?

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes and smiles at a 2018 press conference in Berlin.
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes at a 2018 press conference in Berlin. Aside from plans to take "a little nap" after retiring this week, she hasn't given much away about what she might do next. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

The veteran chancellor has been tight-lipped about what she will do after handing over the reins to her successor Olaf Scholz on December 8th.

During her four terms in office, 67-year-old Merkel was often described as the most powerful woman in the world — but she hinted recently that she will not miss being in charge.

“I will understand very quickly that all this is now someone else’s responsibility. And I think I’m going to like that situation a lot,” she said during a trip to Washington this summer.

Famous for her stamina and her ability to remain fresh after all-night meetings, Merkel once said she can store sleep like a camel stores water.

But when asked about her retirement in Washington, she replied: “Maybe I’ll try to read something, then my eyes will start to close because I’m tired, so I’ll take a little nap, and then we’ll see where I show up.”

READ ALSO: ‘Eternal’ chancellor: Germany’s Merkel to hand over power
READ ALSO: The Merkel-Raute: How a hand gesture became a brand

‘See what happens’
First elected as an MP in 1990, just after German reunification, Merkel recently suggested she had never had time to stop and reflect on what else she might like to do.

“I have never had a normal working day and… I have naturally stopped asking myself what interests me most outside politics,” she told an audience during a joint interview with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“As I have reached the age of 67, I don’t have an infinite amount of time left. This means that I want to think carefully about what I want to do in the next phase of my life,” she said.

“Do I want to write, do I want to speak, do I want to go hiking, do I want to stay at home, do I want to see the world? I’ve decided to just do nothing to begin with and see what happens.”

Merkel’s predecessors have not stayed quiet for long. Helmut Schmidt, who left the chancellery in 1982, became co-editor of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a popular commentator on political life.

Helmut Kohl set up his own consultancy firm and Gerhard Schroeder became a lobbyist, taking a controversial position as chairman of the board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

German writer David Safier has imagined a more eccentric future for Merkel, penning a crime novel called Miss Merkel: Mord in der Uckermark  that sees her tempted out of retirement to investigate a mysterious murder.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel forms her trademark hand gesture, the so-called “Merkel-Raute” (known in English as the Merkel rhombus, Merkel diamond or Triangle of Power). (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

Planting vegetables
Merkel may wish to spend more time with her husband Joachim Sauer in Hohenwalde, near Templin in the former East Germany where she grew up, and where she has a holiday home that she retreats to when she’s weary.

Among the leisure activities she may undertake there is vegetable, and especially, potato planting, something that she once told Bunte magazine in an interview in 2013 that she enjoyed doing.

She is also known to be a fan of the volcanic island of D’Ischia, especially the remote seaside village of Sant’Angelo.

Merkel was captured on a smartphone video this week browsing the footwear in a Berlin sportswear store, leading to speculation that she may be planning something active.

Or the former scientist could embark on a speaking tour of the countless universities from Seoul to Tel Aviv that have awarded her honorary doctorates.

Merkel is set to receive a monthly pension of around 15,000 euros ($16,900) in her retirement, according to a calculation by the German Taxpayers’ Association.

But she has never been one for lavish spending, living in a fourth-floor apartment in Berlin and often doing her own grocery shopping.

In 2014, she even took Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to her favourite supermarket in Berlin after a bilateral meeting.

So perhaps she will simply spend some quiet nights in sipping her beloved white wine and whipping up the dish she once declared as her favourite, a “really good potato soup”.