Hollande Begins to Get His Way on Growth in EU

French President Francois Hollande is getting his way. A draft statement for the EU summit at the end of the month calls for measures to stimulate growth and job creation in Europe, Rebecca Christie and Ewa Krukowska report, as the French president begins to reshape the EU’s political discourse.

Hollande will know this weekend if he has the power to push through economic reforms at home, as the country holds it second-round legislative vote on June 17. Hollande’s Socialist party may win an absolute majority in Parliament, according to an OpinionWay poll for Les Echos, which would give Hollande a free hand to implement what he has been preaching, at least in France.

Meanwhile, Hollande has been building a broader case for growth policies in the euro zone, attempting to switch its focus away from austerity measures. Italy’s Mario Monti hosted Hollande in Rome yesterday to prepare for a four-way meeting next week with Germany’s Angela Merkel and Spain’s Mariano Rajoy, the champions of spending cuts. This meeting will be a prelude to the European Union summit on June 28-29.

The cheeriness shown by Monti and Hollande yesterday, as reported by la Repubblica, underlines their conviction they’re onto a good thing: a Franco-Italian front that may begin to erode the legacy of the Franco-German one Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy created. And this may be none too soon for Monti: support for his four-party coalition government has dropped below 50 percent, Lorenzo Totaro reports, as Italians await results from the spending cuts he implemented when he took office last year. So the EU may begin to focus more closely on jobs now, and here is the issue:

Graphic Tom Hall/Eurostat via Bloomberg

Euro-zone unemployment from 2000 to 2012

Most European leaders may see employment as their next big challenge to avoid further backlash from the electorate – the trend in joblessness in this graph needs to change if sentiment towards Europe’s political leaders is to improve.

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