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.