Sarkozy

AP Photo/Patrick Kovarik, Pool

AP Photo/Patrick Kovarik, Pool

By Tony Barber in Paris

The temperature of France’s presidential election debate shot up on Thursday night when Nicolas Sarkozy snapped at François Hollande that he was “a little slanderer”. Up to that point, Sarkozy had contented himself with the rather more tame accusation that Hollande was telling lies. But “a little slanderer” – that stood out.

Otherwise, the really striking feature of the debate, I thought, was how little the two candidates had to say about international affairs. 

Gideon Rachman

Yesterday the FT opinion desk was offered a piece from a prominent French commentator, attacking President Sarkozy for having helped to create a climate of intolerance in France. A decision was made not to run it, on the grounds that we didn’t yet know who was responsible for the killings in Toulouse and Montauban. It was not yet clear that this was the work of right-wing extremists.

The rush to judgement was not confined to the French left. Also yesterday I heard a strange piece on the BBC’s “Today” programme (compulsory listening for the British middle-classes), where once again the premise of the discussion was that the killer of the French soldiers and the Jewish school-children was likely to be a right-wing extremist. This also struck me as very premature.

And so it seems. As I write the French police are surrounding the house of the chief suspect, who appears to have been an al-Qaeda member or sympathiser

It might have gone largely unnoticed. But there was a sting in the opening remarks made by Jia Qinglin to African heads of state at their annual summit.

The sting was aimed in Europe’s direction. Mr Jia, the fourth-ranking member of China’s ruling communist party, made much of Africa’s rich history and culture and of China’s long and brotherly relationship with the continent in his speech at the brand new $200m-headquarters Beijing had gifted to the African Union. Africa was the cradle of mankind, he reminded the audience. 

Which way forward? Photo: Getty

Welcome to our first eurozone live blog of 2012. By John Aglionby, Tom Burgis and Esther Bintliff on the news desk in London with contributions from correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.

It may be a new year but it’s the same old eurozone crisis. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a bilateral summit in Berlin this morning

Tom Burgis

David Cameron arrives for the EU summit. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Welcome back to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Tom Burgis and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura on the  newsdesk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.

A summit  in Brussels ended in deep division, with the UK refusing to back a new treaty for all 27 EU members and leaving the eurozone countries plus at least six others to forge ahead with a pact of their own to enshrine strict new rules on deficits and debt. It was meant to be the summit that would decisively chart a course out of the eurozone’s debt crisis. 

19.03 That’s the end of our live coverage today. We’ll leave you with a quick summary of the day’s developments. See FT.com for more news and analysis through the evening.

  • The European Union’s 27 leaders, minus David Cameron, struck a deal in the early hours to draw up a treaty by March that would bind them to strict new rules on debt and deficits, with automatic sanctions for countries that break them
  • The UK courted isolation as it refused to sign up to a treaty for all 27 members after David Cameron’s early-hours pitch for safeguards to protect UK financial services met a chilly reception from his counterparts
  • Markets were volatile before a tentative rally lifted equities in Europe and the US. The euro strengthened against the dollar but yields on Italian and Spanish bonds climbed once again
  • The IMF welcomed the European deal, which included €200bn for the fund to ensure it has enough cash to deal with any more fallout from the eurozone crisis, with Christine Lagarde, its head, saying she was “hopeful that others will also do their part”

 

eurocoasterWelcome back to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Tom Burgis, Esther Bintliff and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura on the  newsdesk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.

Europe’s leaders gathered in Brussels for another crunch summit. Expectations are running high for a new grand bargain to restore sanity to the eurozone’s finances and chart a course out of the debt crisis. Also today:

  • The European Central Bank cut interest rates by a quarter point to 1 per cent, as expected, and announced that it would accept more forms of collateral and offer longer-term loans to try to protect the banking system
  • Mario Draghi, ECB president, poured cold water on hopes the central bank was poised to take more aggressive action
  • The European banking authority unveiled its updated stress tests of 70 banks, which tripled the capital shortfall for the German banking sector and pushed up the Europe-wide deficit from €106bn in October to €115bn now

20:15: We’re winding up the liveblog for tonight, but you can follow the rest of the action at FT.com and we’ll be back again on Friday morning. Thanks for reading and for all the comments. Bon courage!

19.54: BREAKING – Peter Spiegel, the FT’s Brussels bureau chief, has this scoop from the summit:

EU leaders have begun their late-starting summit, and they were given a 6-page draft of their conclusions at the start. According to people who have seen it, some of the most interesting new language is on the eurozone bail-out funds.

The current version says the existing €440bn fund, the EFSF, will continue running for another 2 years financing its current programmes – which would not be transferred to the new fund, the €500bn ESM.

That would free up the ESM’s resources, giving the eurozone significantly more firepower, with the two funds running in parallel.

The conclusions say the ESM would have its maximum €500bn lending capacity, regardless of how much the EFSF is committed to.

That could mean as much as €200bn in new “bazooka” weaponry.

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Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace on Monday. Photo: Remy de la Mauvinere/AP

Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel before their meeting at the Elysee palace on Monday. Photo: Remy de la Mauvinere/AP

Welcome back to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Esther Bintliff on the world news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

This post should update automatically every few minutes, but it may take longer on mobile devices. All times are GMT.

 

19.40: So, after a relatively quiet morning, this afternoon and evening have proved to be a bit of a rollercoaster.

  • First, Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel surprised everyone by announcing they had reached “comprehensive agreement” on a new set of fiscal rules ahead of the EU summit later this week. Of course we knew they were going to meet, but to be honest, we hadn’t expected them to say very much in public at this stage. So stock markets rallied, bond yields fell and suddenly it looked like a resolution to the eurozone crisis might be in sight…
  • Then, just when you thought it might be safe etc etcthis story broke. In brief: Standard and Poor’s has warned Germany and the five other triple A members of the eurozone that they risk having their top-notch ratings downgraded as a result of deepening economic and political turmoil in the single currency bloc. The US ratings agency is poised to announce later on Monday that it is putting Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, and Luxembourg on “creditwatch negative”, meaning there is a one-in-two chance of a downgrade within 90 days.

Understandably, investors took fright, and stock markets pared many of the gains made earlier in the day. There will be more news on this story tonight – see FT.com for all the latest. In the meantime thanks for reading, and for all the comments. 

Sarkozy after delivering a speech on the eurozone crisis in Toulon. Photo: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

Photo: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

Welcome back to the FT’s live coverage of the eurozone debt crisis and its global fallout. By John Aglionby, Tom Burgis and Esther Bintliff on the news desk in London with contributions from correspondents around the world.

Pressure is once again mounting on eurozone leaders to find a convincing solution to the sovereign debt crisis. Today:

Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank made a key speech to the European Parliament, hinting at greater ECB action if governments moved towards a “fiscal compact”

  • France and Spain held bond auctions
  • French president Nicolas Sarkozy addressed the nation on his plan to resolve the crisis – he sided with Angela Merkel in calling for treaty change, said he was convinced the ECB would act “when faced with the risk of deflation that threatens Europe”, and called for greater fiscal integration
  • The Bank of England issued its six-monthly financial stability report. Sir Mervyn King, governor, said the eurozone debt crisis is triggering a spiral that is characteristic of nothing short of a crisis to the entire financial system
  • The world’s biggest economies reported key manufacturing data
  • Christine Lagarde said the G20 would commit the necessary resources for the IMF to play its “systemic role” if circumstances required (see our 19.44 update)
  • Brazil’s finance minister Guido Mantega said Brazil was willing to contribute funds to the IMF to help alleviate the eurozone crisis, noting: “This time, the IMF did not come here bringing money as in the past… This time it came to ask Brazil to lend it money and I prefer to be a creditor than a debtor.”

22.32: Tony Barber, the FT’s Europe editor in London, has been analysing the landmark speech by French president Nicolas Sarkozy and offers these insights:  

Tom Burgis

A tram passes the euro sign sculpture in front of the European Central Bank ( ECB) in Frankfurt, Germany. Photographer: Hannelore Foerster/Bloomberg

Welcome to our continuing coverage of the eurozone crisis. All times are GMT. By Tom Burgis, James Crabtree and John Aglionby on the news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

The turmoil in the eurozone has taken a troubling turn in recent days, with anxiety spreading from Europe’s periphery to its “core” countries. Even as Italy’s Mario Monti readies his economic agenda to be presented today, investors are looking at France, the Netherlands and Austria with increasing unease and wondering whether the ECB might yet ride to the rescue. Over in Greece, today is the anniversary of 1973′s mass student protests – with demonstrators once more planning to take to the streets. And the bond markets are showing ever more strain, with today’s Spanish bond auction souring sentiment still further. 

Tom Burgis

Nicolas Sarkozy, French president and G20 host, blows a kiss to someone – presumably not the Greek prime minister (AFP/Getty)

  • Welcome back to the FT’s live coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Tom Burgis and John Aglionby on the news desk in London, with contributions from correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.

One issue dominates the agenda for as the Group of 20 leading economies enters its second and final: the fate of the eurozone amid the turmoil in Greece.

16.41: That’s it for the live blog for today. See FT.com over the coming hours for news and analysis on the G20 summit, Berlusconi’s woes and the outcome of tonight’s Greek vote.

16.31: Before we wind up the live blog, a brief re-cap of the day’s developments

  • The IMF is to monitor Italy’s progress on promises to reform its economy
  • Italian bond yields rose to fresh euro-era highs as Berlusconi said he was going nowhere
  • The Italian PM insisted his majority at home was “solid”, though it looks anything but
  • The G20 summit in Cannes ended with plenty of rhetoric urging the euorzone to get its house in order but no actual cash to help it do so
  • Any decision on boosting the IMF’s resources to help tackle the crisis was put of until when G20 finance ministers meet in February
  • Greek MPs are debating a vote of confidence in the government and will vote at midnight Athens time, 10pm London