Yes side should ‘use Hollande victory in France to its advantage’

A win by François Hollande in next week’s French presidential election should be seen as an “invitation” to Ireland to say yes to the Fiscal Compact treaty, according to a former adviser to his Socialist party.

Professor Zaki Laïdi — a leading expert on European Affairs — said the Government should “take advantage” of the French election to sell the treaty as something that will favour growth and employment policies.

Mr Hollande is on course for a decisive victory in the final run-off next weekend and has promised to seek changes to the EU fiscal compact, which Ireland will vote on in a referendum on May 31.

“My view is that the Irish should say yes, definitely yes,” said Profe Laïdi of the Sciences Po university in Paris.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner he said it was important the yes campaign uses Mr Hollande’s position to its advantage.

“In politics, the way you shape a debate is very important. So the burden is on the shoulders of the yes camp to make a useful use of the French election,” he said.

French developments could also be exploited by the no campaign, he said. “So we have to be careful because for Mr Hollande a no would be very bad news.”

He said: “It would launch a trigger, a process of opposition in all of Europe and that is something we need to avoid.”

Earlier, he said in a speech to the Institute of International and European Affairs that he does not expect Mr Hollande will try to renegotiate the treaty fully but will “craft his position in a very balanced way” because he “cannot afford failure”.

He has already dropped proposals of most difficulty to Germany and is seeking four changes including the creation of ‘project bonds’ instead of eurobonds aimed at raising money to finance a stimulus, as well as a tax on financial transactions.

“None of the propositions are a non-starter for the Germans,” Prof Laïdi said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore attempted to present Mr Hollande’s demands as a positive for Ireland.

Asked if it would be damaging to the Irish vote to have a French president campaigning for changes to the treaty, the Labour leader said: “No, it will make it easier.”

He said: “The election of a French president who would support an agenda that would put a drive for jobs and growth would be very welcome.”

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