Nicolas Sarkozy lambasts ECB’s rigid policies (15)

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has lashed out at the hard money policies of the European Central Bank and launched a veiled attack on Germany’s austerity drive, hoping to bolster his flagging re-election campaign.

“On the question of the ECB’s role in supporting growth, we French are going to open the debate,” he told a mass gathering in Paris. “Europe must absolutely return to growth if it is not going to lose its footing in the world economy.”

Mr Sarkozy criticised the “fixed rules in the Maastricht treaty”, alluding to the ECB’s price stability mandate. The US Federal Reserve has a dual mandate linked to both inflation and jobs.

The latest TNS Sofres poll shows Mr Sarkozy 12 points behind Socialist challenger François Hollande in a head-to-head race. Mr Hollande has made hay with calls for a shift in eurozone strategy and vows to rip up the EU Fiscal Compact – as well as “soak-the-rich” populism with 75pc tax rates.

Mr Sarkozy’s switch in tack suggests he may have clung too long to Franco-German unity above all else, even after it was clear that Club Med shock therapy was spilling back into France.

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The single currency has arrived at a three-pronged fork in the road

Afternoon Updates:

12:03 pm EDT, April 16th, 2012 — Even in a lull, few doubt China will get its economic boom back

12:05 pm EDT, April 16th, 2012 — George Osborne ready to offer £10bn extra firepower for the IMF

12:06 pm EDT, April 16th, 2012 — Spanish minister calls on ECB to buy more bonds

12:08 pm EDT, April 16th, 2012 — George Osborne doesn’t need to rob charities to crack down on tax avoidance

12:10 pm EDT, April 16th, 2012 — World Bank chief not appointed ‘on merit’, says Nigerian candidate Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

12:12 pm EDT, April 16th, 2012 — Devon mine is focus of global trade war for tungsten

12:14 pm EDT, April 16th, 2012 — Singapore sovereign wealth fund targets UK property

12:17 pm EDT, April 16th, 2012 — No simple answer to EU growth vs austerity conundrum

12:19 pm EDT, April 16th, 2012 — In Italy, the debt crisis turns deadly

12:24 pm EDT, April 16th, 2012 — Debt crisis: live

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