President Francois Hollande’s insistence that the EU executive can’t “dictate” reforms to France has outraged Angela Merkel’s conservatives, hours before the German leader was due in Paris for talks.
Unveiling reform recommendations for the 27-nation European Union on Wednesday, the European Commission urged Hollande to rein in public spending, revamp pensions and cut labour costs in return for a two-year reprieve on budget deficit cuts.
French officials broadly welcomed the recommendations as being in line with reform plans already sent to Brussels. But Hollande, who was on a trip through rural France with reporters, warned the Commission not to overstep itself.
“The European Commission cannot dictate what we should do, it can only say that France must balance its public finances,” said Hollande, who later returned to Paris to prepare for Merkel’s visit to the French capital on Thursday.
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