Germany warns against re-opening EU fiscal pact talks
(BERLIN) - Germany's foreign minister on Tuesday warned against renegotiating the EU fiscal pact, which Francois Hollande, front-runner in France's presidential vote, has threatened to do if elected.
"Everyone should know this: we agreed the pact after long negotiations. It remains valid. We need this confidence so we can build a better future in and for Europe," Guido Westerwelle said at a conference in Berlin.
The fiscal pact, clinched after marathon talks by EU leaders in March, is a German-inspired accord that aims to combat the crisis via austerity.
The agreement enshrines in each country's constitution a "debt brake" or "golden rule", meaning countries must limit their structural deficits to 0.5 percent of output.
Of the 27 EU countries, only Britain and the Czech Republic refused to sign.
But during the French election campaign, Hollande has called for the fiscal pact to be renegotiated to include measures for growth and vowed to veto it if he considers such moves insufficient.
"The European pact does not at the moment contain any measures in favour of growth. If things remain like this, I cannot recommend its ratification in parliament," he told German daily Handelsblatt on April 18.
Hollande heads into the second round of the French presidential election on May 6 as favourite after narrowly beating the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday's first round.
The fiscal pact "does not depend on electoral results," Westerwelle said.
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