Hollande-Cameron don't agree on much – except need to save the eurozone
French President Hollande and UK Prime Minister Cameron meet in US today ahead of G8 summit. They are likely to find common ground on eurozone crisis despite differences over austerity.
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"Even with the election of a Socialist president in France, he's actually said 'how am I going to stimulate the economy, I'm not going to do it through extra public spending, because actually we've got to cut back on that,'" Cameron told ITV1's television's Daybreak show. The prime minister also noted that Hollande's target for balancing the budget by 2017 outpaced that of the UK.Skip to next paragraph
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Is France really likely to pull out of Afghanistan early?
With Afghanistan a central issue at the NATO summit, Hollande's pledge to withdraw 3,400 remaining French troops by the end of 2012, even though the NATO deadline for ending combat operations is late 2014, is also a point of concern. Cameron is expected to ask Hollande, who has made public that he considers France’s mission in Afghanistan to be completed, to reconsider his position when they meet today.
Liberti says the problems that a French early pullout of Afghanistan could pose shouldn’t be overestimated because he says it simply won’t happen. Liberti says he believes the French military won’t have enough time to leave Afghanistan by year's end.
“François Hollande said we were committing to withdraw troops in late 2012,” Liberti says. “Basically, it’s impossible. From a logistic point of view, it’s impossible.”
Yet Liberti says Cameron and Hollande could have heated exchanges in the longer term when EU countries start discussing the budget of the organization.
Hollande was elected on an anti-austerity agenda on May 6, although he gave limited details during the campaign on how he would achieve economic growth. Cameron publicly backed former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who was running for reelection, and didn’t meet with Hollande when the latter visited London earlier this year.
Hollande said he would ask European Union countries to renegotiate a fiscal compact on budgetary discipline within the eurozone to boost economic growth. Britain and Czech Republic refused to sign the compact, which was agreed to in March.
Cameron and Hollande belong to different European political traditions. Hollande, a center-left politician of France’s Socialist Party, favors stronger economic and political ties between European countries, while Cameron’s center-right Conservative Party has historically been reluctant to deepen European integration in order to preserve Britain’s independence.
Liberti says Cameron and Hollande are starkly different not only politically but as people.
“On the one hand, you have a British aristocrat and on the other hand the man who said ‘I don’t like the rich,’ ” Liberti says, referring to a statement Hollande made on a television show in 2006 that raised eyebrows in France.
IN PICTURES – France's new president: François Hollande