France's Hollande focuses on euro crisis

French President-elect Francois Hollande threw himself into his new job Wednesday, focusing on Europe

President-elect Francois Hollande arrives at the Socialist Party headquarters in Paris Wednesday May 9, 2012. After winning the French Presidential Election, Hollande seems set to embark on a whir-wind introduction to international politics, with critical visits already being scheduled to Berlin, the US, and two top international summits. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

PARIS (AP) — French President-elect Francois Hollande threw himself into his new job Wednesday, focusing on Europe's debt crisis and studying up for international summits.

Hollande, who was elected Sunday, has never held a ministerial post and is largely an unknown outside France. Even inside the country, many are wondering what kind of leader he will be — especially since he is now regarded as a key figure in the move to ease Europe from it's strict austerity path.

First up on his European agenda was a meeting Wednesday with EU President Herman Van Rompuy. He'll see Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who also chairs meetings of the eurozone's 17 finance ministers, on Thursday.

Hollande already made waves during the campaign by declaring that he wanted to renegotiate a bedrock of the continent's response to the crisis — a fiscal compact meant to limit overspending. Hollande says the agreement has to also address promoting growth.

Under President Nicolas Sarkozy, France took a leading role with Germany on finding a solution to the continent's debt crisis. Many are wondering now how the relationship between the two neighbors will change under Hollande. He has said he will visit Chancellor Angela Merkel very soon after his inauguration on May 15.

But for all his campaign promises, Hollande was seen in the past as a moderate within France's Socialist camp, a pragmatist who seeks consensus and supports European unity.

Sarkozy's tenure also saw France rejoin NATO's military command and take a lead role in the alliance's air campaign against Libya. Hollande has indicated he will reconsider that newly close relationship with NATO.

His first major international tests come later this month when he heads to the United States for NATO and Group of Eight summits. An adviser to Hollande said earlier this week that he was studiously preparing for both meetings.

Wednesday marked Sarkozy's last cabinet meeting, which ministers described as emotional. The government will formally resign on Thursday.

Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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