European Union leaders divided by rift between France and Germany
Agence France-Presse in Brussels
The EU began a two-day summit meeting yesterday amid sharp French and German differences on how to deal with the three-year euro crisis, leaving Paris and Berlin at odds as European Union leaders considered what takes priority - tough austerity or measures to help euro-zone states cope.
Paris called for a single banking union, a key step to allow aid for struggling banks, while Berlin demanded Brussels be given control of member state budgets.
Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel told the German parliament early yesterday that the EU's economic affairs commissioner should get beefed-up oversight powers.
"We … could go further by granting the European level real rights to intervene in national budgets," she said, adding that "unfortunately" some EU states were not ready for such a step.
French President Francois Hollande, who has been out of step before with Berlin, was blunt in return. "The subject of the [EU summit] is not budgetary union, it is banking union," he said.
As leaders arrived, it was clear that differences around the rival French and German positions were many and varied, promising to make the summit difficult.