French President Hollande prepares for tough EU summit

A November summit ended in failure when Britain led opposition against proposals for a new seven-year EU budget, which represents less that 2 percent of the 27-nation gross domestic product.

Christian Lutz/AP
French president Francois Hollande gestures during apress conference at the European Parliament Tuesday, in Strasbourg, eastern France. Hollande warns of a tough European Union summit later this week if countries including Britain continue to demand drastic cuts to the EU budget while refusing to make concessions themselves.

French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday warned British Prime Minister David Cameron not to hijack this week's European Union summit with excessive demands on cuts in the European Union budget while refusing to make concessions themselves.

In his address to the European Parliament, Hollande said the 2014-2020 EU budget of some €1 trillion ($1.35 trillion) was open to some savings but insisted the leaders at Thursday's summit should not compromise innovation and shared sectors like farming.

A November summit ended in failure when Britain led opposition against proposals for a new seven-year EU budget, which represents less that 2 percent of the 27-nation gross domestic product. The breakup was seen in Britain as a show of Cameron resolve in the face of thrifty EU nations.

"I have been told a solution cannot happen with Britain. But why should one country decide for 26 others? Indeed we could have agreed at the last European summit," Hollande said. "In order to let people say that this failure was a victory, we let it happen."

In several remarks that could be seen as targeting Cameron, who is the biggest proponent of drastic savings in the EU budget while insisting on keeping existing concessions, Hollande said "there are those who want to see cuts, others — possibly the same, who want guarantees on their own rebate."

Hollande also chided Cameron for a recent speech where he pledged to renegotiate its relations with the EU and questioned the fundamental philosophy of the EU. Cameron also said that if his party wins the next parliamentary election, he would offer citizens a vote on whether to leave the EU.

The French president said the EU was "a project where we cannot keep on arguing about what is already there and calling everything into question at every step." He said it was "a commitment in which everyone accepts the balancing out of rights and obligations, where the rules are abided by, where confidence creates solidarity."

Thursday will mark the first summit meeting since Cameron's Jan. 23 speech on Europe.

Hollande did foresee a Europe where some core nations could leave others behind and forge ahead on specific issues — much like had been done with the euro, where 17 nations now share the single currency. It did not mean already existing standards could be undermined, he said.

"It is a Europe where states decide to go forward, not necessarily always the same, to enter in new projects to harmonize their policies beyond the basic cornerstones which must be our shared competence," Hollande said.

Hollande did, however, applaud Cameron for his support for France's intervention in Mali, where French and Malian troops are reclaiming vast areas from jihadists and other rebel groups.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to