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France sold 7.96 billion euros ($10.2 billion) of debt, with 10-year borrowing costs rising in the country’s first bond auction of the year as credit-rating companies threaten to cut the nation’s AAA grade.
"The consequence (if France is downgraded) is that the EFSF cannot keep its triple-A rating," said Commerzbank chief economist Joerg Kraemer.
President Nicolas Sarkozy has fewer than 100 days before French elections to overcome the blow dealt by Standard & Poor’s decision to strip the country of its AAA credit rating for the first time. After saying in October that he would do everything possible to retain the top credit rating that one of his advisers called a “national treasure,” the cut to AA+ may hurt Sarkozy’s reputation for economic management and diminish his stature in discussions to end the European debt crisis, said political analysts such as Emmanuel Riviere, a pollster at TNS Sofres in Paris.
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PARIS, Jan 14, 2012 (IPS) - The decision by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to push ahead with a financial transactions tax (FTT) may be a political ploy ahead of elections, but it has the approval of many non-governmental organisations, even as support lags elsewhere. "If France is setting an example, we support this as a principle," said Matt Davies, head of international policy and advocacy for international movement ATD Fourth World, a French-based organisation that works to eradicate extreme poverty. "I think there’s a consensus in society that there should be a far greater accountability by the financial sector," he told IPS in an interview.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy plan to drive forward their agenda for stricter budget rules as they seek to craft a master plan for rescuing the euro over the next three months.
However, a draft copy of the summit agreement leaked last week suggested the talks had hardly progressed since the last summit.
Foreigners seeking French nationality face tougher requirements as of January 1, when new rules drawn up by Interior Minister Claude Guéant come into force. Candidates will be tested on French culture and history, and will have to prove their French language skills are equivalent to those of a 15-year-old mother tongue speaker. They will also be required to sign a new charter establishing their rights and responsibilities.
“Napoleonland”, the brainchild of former French minister and history buff Yves Jégo, is being touted as a rival to Disneyland – assuming, that is, it can gather the £180 million needed to leave the drawing board. The 1815 Battle of Waterloo, in which the Duke of Wellington ended Napoleon's rule in France, could be recreated on a daily basis with visitors perhaps even able be able to take part in the reenactments. “We are not going to take sides,” Mr Jégo said in a reference to widely differing accounts of Napoleon’s legacy in Britain and France ranging from brutal dictator to heroic visionary.