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France vote: Hollande to offer 4 ways to change EU pact

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(PARIS) - French presidential frontrunner Francois Hollande said Wednesday that if he is elected he will send his European partners four proposals to amend the EU fiscal pact.

Speaking at a campaign news conference ahead of the May 6 election, he also welcomed a comment from European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, who earlier said the continent needed joint measures to support growth.

"The day after the vote, if I receive a mandate, I will address a memorandum to the heads of state on renegotiating the treaty," Hollande said.

Hollande said he would call for "the creation of eurobonds, not to pool debts but to finance industrial infrastructure projects" and "free up more financing possibilities from the European Investment Bank."

He also said he would call for "the creation of a tax on financial transactions" and "mobilising the remnants of European structural funds that are now unused."

Hollande also said he welcomed the remarks by Draghi, "who has himself just said that the fiscal pact needs to accompanied by a growth pact."

Hollande said European leaders were coming around to his idea that supporting growth was "ultimately a more effective way of reaching the same goal of controlling the debt and reducing deficits."

"Things have already progressed well... the ideas are moving forward, probably due in large part to the vote of the French people," he said.

He said that if elected he would hold "firm but friendly" discussions with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the main backer of the EU's austerity drive and an avowed supporter of his rival President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"Could this create a clash? We are not here to create conflicts, but neither are we here to cover up... differences in positions," Hollande said.

Hollande is campaigning on a vow to renegotiate the EU fiscal pact in order to complement its austerity rules with more targeted investment in jobs and growth.

Hollande won 28.6 percent of the vote in a first round Sunday to Sarkozy's 27.18 percent and is forecast in opinion polls to beat the incumbent in a May 6 run-off.


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