Europe leaders in pact to shun France's Hollande - media

By @ibtimes on

Angela Merkel and other European leaders have agreed not to meet France's Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande during his election campaign because of his plan to renegotiate their budget discipline treaty, Germany's Spiegel reported.

Germany's Christian Democrat chancellor, Spain's conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Italy's technocrat leader Mario Monti made the agreement, later joined by British Prime Minister David Cameron, even though he did not sign the treaty, the weekly magazine wrote without citing sources.

A spokeswoman for the German government denied the report on Sunday, commenting: Every government leader decides for themselves whether they will meet Mr Hollande.

Hollande is the frontrunner in polls ahead of the two-round April-May election.

Asked whether Merkel would meet him in Berlin, the spokeswoman said: Up to now there is no such appointment.

Hollande visited London four days ago to meet French ex-pats and reassure the financial sector he was not dangerous. He met British opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband but not Cameron.

Hollande said he had the support of left-wing governments in Belgium and Denmark and did not need support from what he called the most conservative governments in Europe.

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Hollande wants to renegotiate a new European fiscal discipline treaty - spearheaded by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but rejected by Cameron - to add clauses on growth and solidarity.

Merkel has thrown her support behind Sarkozy, as she worries about the prospect of France being run by a man whose campaign one of her lawmakers termed a leftist anachronism.

The chancellor would also be reluctant to lose the momentum she has built up with Sarkozy in tackling Europe's debt crisis.

Far-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon said of the reported pact on France's Europe 1 radio on Sunday:

If this is the case, it would confirm our thesis. The battle is taking place at a European level. The conservatives are closing ranks to try to defend their frontline in France because they know very well that if it is breached in France there will be contagion.

They have every reason to be fearful. They are about to get the lesson they deserve because I think France will expel Nicolas Sarkozy from the presidency, he said.

(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson and Holger Hansen; Additional reporting by Daniel Flynn in Paris; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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