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Going for the handshake, but getting a kiss. It may only be a greeting, but investors are watching every move the leaders of France and Germany make.
Earlier this week, the European Union aimed to hammer out a master plan for recovery. And at last, France and Germany seem to agree on a solution.
French President, Nicolas Sarkozy:
“The Franco-German agreement is very complete. It will be written up in a letter and presented to Herman Van Rompuy on Wednesday. We want to make sure that the imbalances that led to the situation in the eurozone today cannot happen again.”
The solution, they say, is a new treaty – one binding in the core 17 euro states but open to all 27 members of the EU.
Gone is the idea of a common euro-area bond to share the pain of struggling nations. And in its place – strict budget rules and sanctions for countries with a deficit of more than 3%.
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel:
“We are in a difficult situation and we need to regain confidence, the acceptance of whether we are trustworthy in the eurozone… if we can live up to our responsibilities. As the belief that we can be taken at our word has suffered, many are worried about whether they can rely on us. And so at the summit on Friday, we need to regain some of this confidence.”
In afternoon trading, the FTSEurofirst Index of top European shares was up 1%. But it may be too soon for investors to start their celebrations…
For the plan to get approval, it still has to run the gauntlet of yet another EU Summit later this week.
Bottom line: The leaders of France and Germany have agreed to a master plan for imposing budget discipline across the eurozone, saying the EU treaty will need to be changed in the search for a sweeping solution to its debt crisis.