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Cautious Euro-welcome for new French President

world Updated: May 08, 2012 02:00 IST
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European leaders welcomed the victory of Francois Hollande in the French presidential election Sunday, pledging to work together on the debt crisis, EU policies and creating sustainable growth.

Germany pledged that it would keep up its cooperation with France in driving European Union policies. Foreign minister Guido Westerwelle stressed both countries would still work together to help the EU respond to the debt crisis which he called "a joint objective".

Chancellor Angela Merkel - a conservative leader who worked closely with outgoing French President Nicolas Sarkozy - also called Hollande to congratulate and invite him to visit the neighbouring country as soon as possible government, spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

One of Hollande's top campaign aides has hinted that he would make his first trip abroad to Germany after his inauguration ceremony just before heading to a series of international summits in the US.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso congratulated Hollande, saying: "I know that I can count on the convictions and the personal commitment of Francois Hollande to advance European integration."

Hollande has pledged to seek a renegotiating of Europe's treaty on fiscal stability to seek policies promoting growth instead of austerity, a proposal that has been rejected by Germany's centre-right government.

Outgoing French President Nicolas Sarkozy's defeat thus comes as bad news for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Westerwelle made a point in speaking French at the outset of his statement at the French embassy in Berlin.

Merkel's government has categorically ruled out renegotiating the fiscal treaty agreed to by 25 EU nations, but has softened its rhetoric recently to embrace a string of separately agreed-upon European measures promoting growth.

Germany, however, thinks of them more as structural reforms and a repackaging of existing EU funds instead of outright injecting fresh money into the bloc's ailing southern economies - something Hollande has suggested.