Four days before the first round of voting, the leading candidate in France's presidential elections has suggested he might not support an EU pact on fiscal discipline if it is not flexible in allowing for growth.
French presidential front-runner Francois Hollande said Wednesday he may veto an EU fiscal pact on budget restraint if it fails to include provisions for economic growth.
"If the pact contains no measures for growth, I can't recommend it for ratification by the National Assembly," Hollande told the German business daily Handelsblatt. "I promised that to the French, I will stick to it."
The pact, crafted in large part by Germany with strong support from France, has been agreed to by 25 of the EU's 27 member states. It gives up significant national fiscal autonomy to the EU, allowing the bloc to veto budgets that produce excessive deficits.
Hollande agreed that greater fiscal restraint is needed in Europe, but warned against "saving for saving's sake" when economic growth forecasts for the continent are grim.
"All EU countries, even Germany, are suffering from meager economic growth," he said. "Only a strategy for growth can get Europe out of its crisis."
A recent CSA poll predicted Hollande would win 29 percent in the first round of voting on April 22, a five-point advantage over incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy's 24 percent. A May 6 run-off would give Hollande an even more impressive lead of 16 percentage points.
Sarkozy had an election rally scheduled in the northern town of Arras on Wednesday, while Hollande was set to give a television interview.
Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen held a rally in a Paris concert hall on Tuesday, lashing out at immigrants and "stupid" EU "technocrats" in her characteristic nationalist style. The CSA poll put her in third place in the first round of voting with 17 percent.
acb/ccp (AFP, Reuters)