Hollande calls for greater focus on growth

  Xinhua, May 24, 2012

French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday reiterated the necessity of greater emphasis on growth to stem two years of financial turmoil in the eurozone, urging to work hard to maintain Greece in the single-currency bloc.

"How can we reach reduction of public deficit and control debts if there are not addtional activities... We can not accept a eurozone where zero growth rate is expected in 2012 and a dim rate in 2013," Hollande said.

"We have to set growth policies at the European scale because growth is a condition to meet deficit targets," he added.

In a joint press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, the Socialist head of state said he will put euro bonds issue on the agenda of Wednesday's informal European Union (EU) summit in Brussels despite consistent German opposition.

"I'll talk on the euro bonds issue not to be in conflict with the others, the idea is to think about a financing way which allows governments to have funding with the lowest possible interest rate and to be protected from speculations," the French president noted.

Newly inaugurated Hollande wants to change the terms of the debate in Europe with further focus on growth rather on austerity policies associated with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.

Hollande's pact of growth seems gaining support in the European bloc where several members are at the frontline of the crisis.

In this context, visiting Rajoy urged "policies that stimulate growth" and "strengthen the euro."

"Reducing budget deficits is not enough. It's important to have policies that stimulate growth... We are in favor for budget monitoring but we must have policies that lead us to growth," Rajoy said.

Furthermore, Hollande and Rajoy pointed to the need to have enough liquidity into the European financial system to consolidate the financial assets of all European banks.

They also expressed hopes to maintain debt-ridden Greece in the eurozone after reports said eurozone officials called members to prepare contingency plans in case Athens will decide to leave the bloc.

"I will do what I can do to convince the Greeks to choose to stay in the zone and also I will do everything to convince the Europeans who could doubt the necessity to keep Greece in the euro area," Hollande told reporters.

"We have to stay together and I cannot prepare a diferent scenario," he added.

After the Paris meeting, Hollande and Rajoy will fly to Brussels later to attend a summit over a dinner in a fresh attempt to inject new dynamism into the sticken European economies.