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Hollande warned over Euro growth strategy

Hollande warned over Euro growth strategy

French president-elect Francois Hollande has been warned he will face an uphill struggle if he attempts to rewrite the European Union's deficit reduction strategy.

The Socialist candidate, who beat incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday's election, has pledged to renegotiate the budget discipline pact to include a clause on growth.

Mr Hollande's election poses several questions for the EU, in particular around France's relationship with the centre-right German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who publicly backed Mr Sarkozy during the election campaign.

Following Mr Hollande's victory, and the parliamentary election in Greece, Ms Merkel said a new deal on the European fiscal pact was not "up for grabs".

She told a press conference in Berlin that Europe must seek growth which is sustainable, rather than growth "on the back of debt".

A German government spokesman also ruled out a change, telling a press conference a renegotiation was "not possible" as 25 of the 27 EU states had already signed the accord.

However Ms Merkel said she will welcome Mr Hollande with "open arms" when he visits Berlin following his inauguration on 16 May. She added that the pair would work closely together as Franco-German co-operation was "essential for Europe".

Declaring his victory, Mr Hollande said: "May 6 should be a great date for our country, a new start for Europe, a new hope for the world. I'm sure in a lot of European countries there is relief, hope that at last austerity is no longer inevitable."

David Cameron called Mr Hollande last night to congratulate him on his victory. A spokesman said: "They both look forward to working very closely together in the future and building on the very close relationship that already exists between the UK and France."

Labour leader Ed Miliband said Mr Hollande's leadership was needed "as Europe seeks to escape from austerity".

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On air

Peter Altmaier: European fiscal compact will not be renegoiated

07/05/2012 on The World At One, BBC Radio 4