François Hollande will make his first visit as French president to Greece on Tuesday carrying the same anti-austerity message to Athens that won him election to the Élysée Palace last May.
As he put it in a pre-visit interview with the Athens newspaper Ta Nea, it was essential for Europe to support growth in Greece, reeling from years of financial crisis and recession. “I reject a Europe that condemns countries to austerity without end,” he declared.
The complicating factor, as the Financial Times Hugh Carnegy noted, is that France is bound by the same budget targets as the rest of the EU, so it may have to engage in more austerity. But France’s Finance Minister is making some noise about breaking with France’s earlier budget targets. “I don’t think our credibility will be damaged if something exceptional intervenes,” finance minister Pierre Moscovici said yesterday. “If we have a deeper recession, we’ll have an even tougher time hitting our targets. We must not add austerity to the risk of recession.”
As this chart shows, European austerity has gone hand in hand with increasing unemployment (even as EU debt loads have increased):
Meanwhile, here in the U.S., Republicans are embracing austerity of their own, cheerleading huge looming, budget cuts.