Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Kenny pledges to work with Hollande

President-elect Francois Hollande waves to the crowd after his election in Tulle, central France (AP)

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will speak with incoming French president Francois Hollande within the next few days.

The Taoiseach said he is keen to discuss job creation and growth within the eurozone with the Socialist Party president elect - areas the latter has claimed need addressing in the European stability treaty.

"I look forward to engaging with Monsieur Hollande, particularly in relation to his already expressed desire for there to be an increased emphasis on the issues of jobs and growth in the EU," said Mr Kenny.

He congratulated Mr Hollande, who topped outgoing Nicolas Sarkozy in the French presidential election on Sunday.

"These are challenging times for Europe but I believe that these challenges can be met and overcome with determination and a unity of focus on behalf of all member states," the Taoiseach added.

Mr Hollande created uncertainty within the eurozone last week when he claimed he would seek to have the text of the fiscal treaty amended if he were elected as head of state.

He warned France would not ratify the treaty if no changes were made to the finer points, to address jobs and growth. At least 12 of the 25 European states that have signed up to the treaty must ratify it for it to be implemented.

Mr Kenny insisted Ireland's referendum on the treaty on May 31 would go ahead regardless of France's stance on the fiscal deal, which aims to impose stricter budgetary rules on members.

But opposition TDs, including Sinn Fein and members of the United Left Alliance have welcomed Mr Hollande's victory. They have argued it proves European voters are rejecting austerity - and thereby standing against the treaty.

Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail TDs have spent the weekend canvassing for a Yes vote in the referendum, while those in opposition have been rallying support against it.

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