France took the first step in approving the European Union’s fiscal pact, despite opposition from a public tired of austerity and members of President Francois Hollande’s coalition government who oppose its measures.
Reuters reported Wednesday that the pact, which was agreed to in March by Hollande’s predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, requires countries in the bloc to adhere to budgetary discipline that will require France to cut its deficit to only 3% of GDP. Approval by the cabinet is just a preliminary; Parliament must still give the go-ahead, even as the measure’s popularity sinks.
However, support for the EU is waning in France as people weary of cutbacks and high unemployment. In fact, a survey released Monday indicated that almost two-thirds of voters would now reject the 1992 Maastricht Treaty that led to the euro. European Affairs Minister Bernard Cazeneuve commented on the poll’s results Tuesday, saying in the report, “The public is falling out of love with the European Union.”
If at least 12 countries in the 17-nation currency bloc give the go-ahead by Jan. 1, the pact will go into effect. Six countries, including Germany, have already signed on.