Euro leaders come together to make small steps toward greater union
President François Hollande met with other European leaders on Thursday and Friday, October 18 and 19, to discuss further action to address the debt crisis continuing to plague the continent. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy announced on Friday that the union was closer to implementing a single supervisory mechanism for banks in nations using the euro, though no date was given for the oversight institution’s launch, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Wall Street Journal reported. The French President announced on Wednesday, October 17, that the end of the crisis was “very near,” insisting that efforts continue to avoid ongoing recession by promoting further growth, and continuing his push against the austerity measures being promoted by his German counterparts, according to Reuters, The Economic Times and Le Nouvel Observateur. Hollande also asserted that he remained devoted to greater interdependence within the European Union but said that a fiscal union must be created before a stronger political union can be forged, as covered by Le Figaro.
New state bank to finance smaller businesses
Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici announced on Saturday, October 20, that France was undertaking a historic effort to strengthen its economy, Bloomberg reported. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced on Wednesday, October 17, the creation of a government-backed investment bank that will provide €30 billion in loans, investments, and guarantees to small and medium-sized enterprises to spur economic growth for the nation, according to The Washington Post. Jean-Pierre Jouyet, executive officer of the Caisse des Dépôts, was named to head the new investment bank, BPI (Banque Publique d'Investissement), as covered by Le Monde.
EU, Greece see 2011 debt soar
The European Union statistics office announced on Monday, October 22, that the cumulative debt for the 17-nation eurozone had grown to its highest level since the beginning of the single-currency union in 2011, rising to 87.3 percent of GDP from 85.4 in 2010, Bloomberg and Les Echos reported. The news came as the Greek statistics office reported the same day that the struggling nation’s public debt had jumped 5 percent, higher than expected, to 170.6 percent of GDP in 2011, while the nation saw a budget deficit of 9.4 percent on the year, according to L’Expansion.
Murder of Corsican lawyer boosts anti-crime efforts
Antoine Sollacaro, one of the most prominent lawyers on the French island region of Corsica known for defending a number of notable nationalists, was shot dead en route to work on Tuesday, October 16, BBC and Le Nouvel Observateur reported. As Sollacaro became the 15th victim this year in what has been described as violence between criminal gangs, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced on Monday, October 22, that the government would devote greater resources to thwarting violence in the region, including heightened measures to stop money laundering and other fiscal criminal activities, according to Le Figaro.
Désir officially takes head of Socialist Party
Harlem Désir, former head of SOS Racisme, officially became the secretary general of France’s ruling Socialist Party on Friday, October 19, after 72.1 percent of party members voted in favor of the new leader endorsed by outgoing party leader Martine Aubry, L’Humanité and Libération reported. France 24 noted that the appointment made Désir not only the first black leader of a European political party, but also a possible contender to one day become France’s first black president.
Hollande recognizes 1961 French massacre
President François Hollande created a political firestorm when he recognized on Wednesday, October 17, the responsibility of France in the famed massacre of Algerian independence protesters on the same date in 1961, The Chicago Tribune and Le Nouvel Observateur reported. Hollande became the first president to officially recognize the massacre, in which historians have speculated that up to 200 protesters might have been killed, according to The Guardian.
Hollande talks education
President François Hollande presented his plans for educational reform at the Sorbonne on Wednesday, October 10. He maintained his promise of additional teacher posts but also promoted a 4.5-day school week and the reduction of students required to redo academic years. He also presented a proposal to end homework, citing the inequality in support for children from France’s varied backgrounds, according to France 24, The Wall Street Journal and Le Nouvel Observateur.
Germany predicts slower recovery
Germany released projections for its economy on Wednesday, October 17, revising downward projected growth for 2013 from its last projection in April of 1.6 to 1.0 percent, as the economic crisis in Europe seems far from over. The eurozone’s top economy Germany did hike its projection for 2012 from 0.7 percent to 0.8 percent, Boursier, L’Expansion and The Financial Times reported.
Karadzic back on trial at ICC
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic presented opening arguments at his trial at the International Criminal Court on Tuesday, October 16. Facing 10 charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, he presented himself as a “tolerant” man, CNN, Europe 1 and BBC reported. Karadzic was arrested in 2008 after 13 years in hiding. His trial began in 2009 before delays in the proceedings which are anticipated to draw to a close in 2014.
Armstrong stripped of Tour de France titles
The International Cycling Union announced on Monday, October 22, that it would not appeal the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to ban Lance Armstrong for life from Olympic sports, meaning the Amaury Sport Organization will erase Armstrong’s name from record as the winner of seven Tours de France, The Washington Post, Rue 89 and Les Echos reported. The seven Tours will go down in official record with no winner, as the coordinators of the annual race said they would not recognize the runners-up in Armstrong’s fall from grace, as many top finishers in those years were also involved in widespread doping, according to The New York Times