MP: Bundestag ready to accept cosmetic changes to fiscal pact

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A high-ranking member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition has said that they are ready to accept “rhetorical” changes to the EU' fiscal compact treaty in case of a victory of socialist candidate François Hollande in the French presidential elections. 

On Monday (23 April) Andreas Schockenhoff, an MP and vice president of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union group in the Bundestag, announced that the fiscal compact could be changed not on the substance, but on the rhetoric. "We can put in a fine paragraph on growth,” he said.

“This way, Hollande will be able to say at home: ‘I have ensured that the fiscal pact deals with growth’. These rhetorical things, we can do them.”

Hollande, who received the most votes in the first round of elections held on Sunday (22 April), has pledged to adding a growth chapter to the new treaty, although it is unclear how significant the changes will be.

Ratification date uncertain

Schockenhoff said the ratification of the fiscal compact in different EU countries will have to be postponed pending the outcome of the French elections. He said “no government can propose it to its own parliament. If there are re-negotiations, they must be undertaken very quickly.”

The MP added that due to the French legislative elections expected in mid-June, Germany’s own ratification timetable was affected.

“We cannot ratify this pact in Germany without knowing where the journey will lead us to in France. That’s why we are going to turn to the date that the French National Assembly determines,” he said.

“The question is then posed of whether the vote will take place before the summer.”

Sarkozy stood too near Germany

Schockhenhoff attributed Hollande’s success in the first round in part to what he called incumbent President Sarkozy’s “risky” strategy of aligning himself too closely with Germany.

“I think that it was very risky to have bet on the German economic and budgetary model. I had said it to our friends in the UMP [Sarkozy’s centre-right party], but it was the wish of our French colleagues. I think this strategy ultimately benefited Hollande,” he said.

Schockenhoff considered the Socialist’s win to be substantial, saying “Hollande is in the lead, he has received a large number of votes, more than most Socialist candidates to the presidency before him. “

“It’s also interesting that the incumbent president is starting the race for the second round from second place,” he added.

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