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EU vote poses policy dilemma

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - 02:25

May 27 - European leaders meet to lick their wounds after stunning advances by anti-EU and populist parties in European Parliament elections. As David Pollard reports, the results may prevent deeper euro zone integration and tilt Europe's economic policy towards expansion.

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It's been called an earthquake. Europe's leaders are measuring the aftershock - and how to limit it. UK prime minister David Cameron says there can be no more ''business as usual.'' As does Marine Le Pen of the National Front, who now leads the biggest French party in Europe's parliament. (SOUNDBITE) (FRENCH) NATIONAL FRONT LEADER, MARINE LE PEN, SAYING: "We must also demand an immediate moratorium on the European construction. No more advances towards European federalism can take place. We are still here to ban all developments in that direction.'' From the incumbents, a promise to improve. President Hollande of France is speaking of a new emphasis on jobs and investment - less on austerity. Angela Merkel of Germany also talks of growth - and of more competitiveness. And Italy's Matteo Renzi is vowing to press for fewer budgetary controls - to allow more public spending. James Ashley of RBC Capital Markets. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) JAMES ASHLEY, RBC CAPITAL MARKETS, SAYING: ''The general direction for the core policies will be one of further integration, deep integration on things like economic and monetary union. But I think there are some areas where I think frankly, politicians are going to have to pare back the scope of the EU in order to reflect the will of the people which has very clearly been expressed in these elections." Reform is the answer, says Charles Stanley chief economist, Jeremy Batstone-Carr, though that has its own dangers. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) JEREMY BATSTONE-CARR, CHIEF ECONOMIST, CHARLES STANLEY, SAYING: ''With reform will come change, will potentially result in a very slow pace of reduction in unemployment, and of course, as regional unemployment stays high around the region, it's highly likely that anti-establishment parties will continue to do well.'' The EU faces internal dilemmas too. Like who should be the next European Commission president. Luxembourg's former prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, was tipped. But his staunch federalism is opposed by Cameron and others. And even Merkel - one of his main backers - appears more guarded in her support. With nearly a third of the seats going to extreme parties in the European parliament, the landscape has changed. So could the hard right and the hard left be here to stay? Michael Hewson of CMC Markets. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) MICHAEL HEWSON, CHIEF MARKET ANALYST, CMC MARKETS, SAYING: ''I certainly think that could well be the case - especially if unemployment fails to come down and growth continues to be very, very hard won.'' As for the presidency: critics say it's very much ''business as usual'' - negotiations for the top job expected to take weeks if not months to conclude.

EU vote poses policy dilemma

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - 02:25

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