Where is François Hollande going?

It now appears that Angela Merkel is prepared to allow the Eurozone's €750bn bail out fund to buy up the bonds of governments of countries in crisis in a serious effort to push down the cost of borrowing for Italy and Spain, thus preventing the single currency from imploding. She has opposed allowing the Eurozone to use its rescue fund (the European Financial Stability Facility or EFSF) for some years. It would be lent directly to Eurozone countries in trouble if used. Her fear was that Berlin would end up footing the bill and beneficiaries would escape the kind of strict conditions imposed on Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Now Merkel has been under considerable pressure since the financial markets pushed up borrowing costs for Spain to a level that some analysts believe are unsustainable. They are likely to see such a decision as a step in the direction of sharing troubled countries' debts across the Eurozone's 17 members. Nonetheless, it still falls short of collective loans or 'Eurobonds' that have been suggested by José Manuel Barroso, the EU commission president. Perhaps, in the longer term, closer cordination between banks and national financing will emerge, the seeds have been sowed but will they grow? If they do then the Eurozone might then grow as new members join and the pressure to have more federal fiscal controls are part of the conditions of joining.

French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici and President François Hollande have played a remarkably low key role in the negotiations leading to this point. Before he was elected François Hollande was very emphatic on the importance of France continuing to play a major part in the € recovery and the central role of France in the EU. Where Merkel and Barroso have played a major part at the centre of the G20 meeting, Hollande appears to have been all but mute. He did, of course, mutter a few words in response to Cameron's red carpet jibe, but even then it was Labour Minister Michel Sapin who poked fun back at Cameron, which was the best thing to do. So, the € is gradually coming back to life and all imminent threats appear to be subsiding but where is France in all of this? No doubt the French press is reporting on all of this from a French perspective, but using a wider range of media in a number of countries there is scarcely mention of Pierre Moscovici or his boss François Hollande. Is this where France is going? Perhaps one might say 'going it alone'. At a time when France should be less inward looking, the signals Hollande gave out in Mexico this week almost foretell French isolationism within the EU.

The trouble with people who mainly think is that they are the ones who butt in with something from several points earlier in the conversation they have thought about. In the interim, not only are they our of synch but have missed the more recent issues by thinking. I have been on so many committees with people like that, that to believe a head of state is going to do that makes me more than a little nervous.

The Reuters piece, interesting, large parts of it seemed like a hangover after too much Sarko. How the editor, Yves Clarisse, took whatever reporter X wrote and got to a French slant that does not match German or other language Reuters reports illustrates the French take for me. Some key players were mentioned but that was all, no mention of Barroso fighting on the side of Europe so 'patriotically' either. Yes, Nick seems right about wherewithall I fear and it might as well have been the supermarket as the summit for all his presence really mattered. I look forward (maybe, perhaps) to an interesting (MAYBE, PERHAPS!) EU summit in a few days time. I hope he has thought by then.

Similar to De Gaulle during WWII. More interested in who was going to govern France after la bataille than the bigger picture of ensuring a more secure Europe. Often quoted as the source as to why he was left out of the discussions between Churchill & Roosevelt until he reall had to be included.

Seeing Hollande on TV last night at the G20 (Summit, not the supermarket) he didn't strike me as having the wherewithall to make it on such a big stage.

Spains borrowing costs unsustainable. Yes the cost of this borrowing is flying out of control, how can they ever be expected to get their heads out of the water when what they already owe is being added to at a rate of knots.

Giving the money to them (lent against a bond - your toilet paper imagery comes to mind), I would prefer to see a more stable economy manage the use of those funds in or for the benefit of those countries, but I don't know if it is possible.

Fiscal controls yes, austerity no - and that in my view should extend not only to new members, but should start at home.

Other - really breaking down the barriers, same taxation, inflation and borrowing across Europe. I still have the idea that we are going off half cock at this Europe lark.