Business World

Saturday 16 December 2017

Sarkozy in 'quit euro' threat to persuade Merkel

Gregory Viscusi and Ben Sills

FRENCH President Nicolas Sarkozy threatened to pull out of the euro unless German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to back the European Union bailout plan at a summit last week in Brussels, 'El Pais' newspaper said.

The Madrid-based newspaper cited comments made by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at a May 12 meeting of Socialist politicians.

A spokeswoman at Mr Sarkozy's office in Paris declined to comment on the report.

And spokesmen for Ms Merkel and Mr Zapatero said they had no immediate comment.

France, Italy and Spain pressed the Germans to back the rescue at a May 7 meeting of eurozone heads of government in Brussels. Finance ministers hammered out the details of what became a multi-billion euro package of emergency lending facilities at an all-night meeting two days later.

El Pais report

According to 'El Pais', which didn't say how it obtained the information, Mr Zapatero said that Mr Sarkozy demanded "the commitment of everyone, that everyone should help Greece, everyone according to their means, or France would reconsider the situation of the euro".

Mr Sarkozy banged his fist on the table and threatened to quit the euro, which forced Ms Merkel to cave in, Mr Zapatero told the Spanish politicians, according to the 'El Pais' account.

"If at this point, given how it's falling, Europe isn't capable of making a united response, then there is no point to the euro," the French president said.

It wouldn't be the first time Mr Sarkozy linked the fate of the euro to a willingness to support Greece.

On March 7, before meeting Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in Paris, Mr Sarkozy said: "If we created the euro, we cannot let a country in the eurozone fall.

"Otherwise there was no point in creating the euro.

We must support Greece because they are making an effort." (© Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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