News / Europe

France's New Leader Faces First Test Overseas

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande speak after their joint news conference in the Chancellery in Berlin, May 15, 2012.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande speak after their joint news conference in the Chancellery in Berlin, May 15, 2012.
Lisa Bryant
PARIS, France - France's new president, Francois Hollande, is heading to the United States (Friday) just days after taking office. The G8 and NATO summits will offer a glimpse of France's foreign policy under its new leader.

Francois Hollande took office this week, promising to unify France and help fix its economic problems. His gender-balanced leftist Cabinet sat down to work on Thursday, but President Hollande's first actions are taking place overseas - not at home.

Hours after his swearing-in ceremony, Hollande was in Berlin, holding his first talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, France's most important European partner.  Despite their talk of unity, there are big differences.

Hollande champions growth along with austerity measures to tackle Europe's debt crisis. Merkel is a budget stickler.

But Hollande appears to be scoring points. In an interview with American news channel CNBC a day after meeting him, Merkel signaled she too is open to stimulus measures - notably for debt-strapped Greece.

Hollande faces another diplomatic test in the United States, where he holds talks Friday with President Barack Obama. He also will attend Group of 8 and NATO summits that will offer world leaders a chance to meet the Socialist president who is little known outside of France.

Analysts say low-key Hollande will offer a style change from his hard-charging predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy. In France, Sarkozy earned the nickname of "Sarko the American," who liked soft drinks and hamburgers.  The former French leader was at the forefront of efforts to tackle Europe's debt crisis and the NATO campaign in Libya.

But in substance, political scientist Bruno Cautres does not expect a radical foreign policy shift under France's new president.

"There are some historical trends in the French foreign policy," said Cautres. "I cannot see any big change in that. The Franco-American relations is still going to be a very good and very important ... the French policies in the Middle East are there for a long time. France always has asked for an official status and recognition of Palestine. Afghanistan - it is quasi-over."

At the NATO summit in Chicago, Hollande will have to defend France's early troop pullout from Afghanistan.  But that decision was already made by Sarkozy.  And Hollande's pro-growth strategies for Europe are likely to be welcomed by Washington, which is pushing similar measures.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More