16 Jun 2012

Merkel critical of French economy

9:18 am on 16 June 2012

Chancellor Angela Merkel has criticised France's economic performance in a war of words with President Francois Hollande over how to tackle Europe's deepening debt crisis.

Mrs Merkel told German business leaders on Friday that Europe should talk about the growing gap between the bloc's two biggest economies.

Mr Hollande met German opposition leaders on Wednesday to give them details of a lowering of the pension age, that Berlin fears will only deepen France's economic problems.

Mrs Merkel said that a decade ago Germany trailed or was at best even with France by traditional measures of competitiveness, such as unit labour costs.

Now, she said, Germany has opened a "growing" lead, saying this was an issue "that must be discussed in Europe".