October 28, 2010 / 10:29 AM / 9 years ago

EU to accept Franco-German treaty "present"-France

* Minister says Franco-German deal no diktat

* Sees summit accepting budget, treaty changes

* Responds angrily to commissioner Reding

By Stephen Brown

BERLIN, Oct 28 (Reuters) - France believes European Union leaders will adopt a Franco-German deal on budget rules at their summit on Thursday and Friday and dismissed as a “nuisance” an EU official who called the bilateral initiative irresponsible.

Leaders are expected to agree sanctions for member states that violate deficit and debt rules, but Germany and France have caused upset with an independent deal seeking changes to the EU treaty in order to guarantee long-term fiscal discipline.

French European Affairs Minister Pierre Lellouche said in Berlin on Thursday that some “dramatisation” was inevitable at the summit, but “there is a sense of realism that will triumph at the end of the day, maybe not already tonight”.

He rejected criticism that the two euro zone giants were dictating policy, telling reporters: “It is no diktat, it is a Franco-German present to Europe. Of course it is not aimed at dictating from the big to the small, that is ridiculous.”

Germany wants limited amendments to the EU’s Lisbon treaty to allow for a permanent system to handle sovereign debt crises in countries that use the euro, and has threatened to block the other reforms if no deal is reached on treaty alterations.

The EU’s executive Commission has put pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy to abandon their proposals, unveiled by surprise at talks in the French town of Deauville on Oct. 18.

European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has warned that this would mean opening a “Pandora’s box” after taking a decade to negotiate the treaty and called it “irresponsible” — provoking an angry response from Lellouche.

“You just don’t go and attack publicly the leaders of France and Germany or anybody. Elected leaders must not be called irresponsible by members of the commission who themselves are not elected by anybody, by the way,” he said of Reding.

Lellouche said the French and German leaders were within their rights to seek treaty changes, adding: “Who is this lady to say an elected president and chancellor cannot propose this?”

The French minister said Reding had previously concentrated her outspoken criticisms on France because of its expulsion of Roma people from illegal settlements, but was now broadening her “offensive” to include Germany as well.

“I am glad now that she has broadened her area of nuisance value,” he joked.

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