Merkel Aide Brushes Off French Socialists’ Criticism of Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman brushed off reports of an attack on her austerity policy by France’s ruling Socialists, saying she only deals with French leaders such as President Francois Hollande.

“Only government action counts,” Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin today. “The rest is mood music.” He declined further comment on “something that individual French Socialists wrote in a paper.”

The Socialist paper, cited by news outlets such as Agence France-Presse and the Financial Times, condemned Merkel’s austerity-led policies aimed at stemming the euro-area debt crisis that began in Greece in 2009. French voters elected Hollande in 2012 on an anti-austerity platform, testing French-German ties.

The attack on Merkel was “inappropriate” and underlines the “despair” of the French Socialists in trying to tackle the country’s economic and financial problems, said Andreas Schockenhoff, a lawmaker for Merkel’s Christian Democrats.

Hollande’s government “can’t distract from the profound structural reforms” France needs to undertake, Schockenhoff, the party’s parliamentary spokesman for European and foreign affairs, said in an e-mailed statement.

German-French friction points include Merkel’s call to counter recession and debt by boosting competitiveness in all euro-area countries. The two governments haven’t agreed on a “common vision” yet, Seibert said.

“Work is continuing” on that project, which “we can maybe also present to our European partners,” Seibert said. A European Union summit on June 27-28 is the target date for an agreement, though it’s “an arduous process,” he said.

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