May 9, 2012 (TSR) – France’s new president Francois Hollande has made a thinly-veiled attack on David Cameron by claiming Britain treats Europe ‘like a self-service restaurant’.
The new Socialist president-elect made his aggressive position towards the UK clear while outlining plans for his first meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron.
Asked by the news website Slate how he planned to deal with Mr Cameron, given the fact that the Conservative leader had snubbed him during a visit to London earlier this year, Mr Hollande also said he would meet him ‘quickly’.
But Mr Hollande, who openly describes himself as an ‘enemy of finance’, said he would make his antipathy towards the City of London clear.
Mr Hollande fired a broadside at the coalition government by criticising Britain’s supposed ‘obsession’ with protecting the City of London from Brussels-inspired legislation.
Mr Hollande said: ‘Let us recognise that the British have been particularly timid about the question of financial regulation and only concerned by the interests of the City, hence their reticence on the establishment of a financial transactions tax and European fiscal harmonisation.
‘And to that is added a relative indifference to the fate of the Eurozone, because Great Britain is protected against speculation since its central bank can intervene directly to finance its debt.
‘Europe is not a cash till and less still a self-service restaurant.’
As Mr Cameron warned that the single currency is in ‘extreme trouble’ Hollande suggested that Britain is ‘indifferent to the fate of the euro area’ and ‘attentive only to the interests of the City’.
This is despite the fact that billions of pounds of UK taxpayers’ money is already being used to prop up the euro.
Mr Hollande, who is against austerity measures designed to save the euro, went on to threaten the UK with new Europe-wide taxes to neuter the City of London.
He signalled his support for an EU-wide transaction tax on financial deals and a fresh push for tax harmonisation – both of which are fiercely opposed by the British government.
The euro fell to a three-and-a-half year low following Mr Hollande’s victory, which was accompanied by political and economic turmoil in Greece.
Mr Hollande will be officially sworn in as French president on May 15, replacing conservative Nicolas Sarkozy.
The following day, Mr Hollande is due to travel to Germany to meet Angela Merkel in a bid to convince her to ditch her austerity programme for Europe and sign up to a growth pact.
The German Chancellor has already written to Mr Hollande telling him that the eurozone was looking to the two leaders to take the ‘necessary decisions’ to resolve the debt crisis.
‘It is up to us to take the necessary decisions for the European Union and the eurozone, to prepare our societies for the future and protect and advance prosperity in a sustainable way,’ Ms Merkel wrote in a letter congratulating him on his poll victory.
Ms Merkel noted that Mr Hollande was assuming power in the European Union’s number two economy ‘at a time full of challenges’.