French President, Francois Hollande to be sworn into office

Francois Hollande to be sworn in as France president

Francois Hollande will be in Germany within hours of his swearing in

15 May 2012 Last updated at 02:59

Francois Hollande is set to be sworn in as French president – and will immediately be plunged into tackling Europe’s swirling debt crisis.

Mr Hollande will attend an inauguration ceremony at the Elysee Palace with outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy in the coming hours.

Within hours he will be in Germany to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The trip underscores the importance of the German-French relationship in Europe at a tumultuous time.

It comes amid a political vacuum in Greece and predictions that it may be forced out of the euro, stoking fears that caused the euro to tumble in trading on Monday.

Mr Hollande has criticised the German-led focus on austerity as the way out of the crisis.

As the eurozone’s two biggest economies – and biggest contributors to the bailout funds – Germany and France are key decision-makers over the strategy supposed to pull Europe out of crisis.

Following the ceremony at the Elysee Palace, Mr Hollande will lay a wreath at the Arc de Triomph and travel in an open-top car down the Champs-Elysees.

Soon after his inauguration he will name his cabinet – with an experienced moderate, Michel Sapin, tipped as finance minister and German speaker Jean-Marc Ayrault tipped for prime minister.

On Tuesday afternoon, he will fly to Germany for dinner with Chancellor Merkel, who says she will welcome the new leader “with open arms”.

But her embrace will hide some embarrassment, says the BBC’s Europe editor Gavin Hewitt, after Mrs Merkel openly supported Mr Sarkozy in the election battle.

“We don’t think the same on everything,” Mr Hollande acknowledged on French television on Monday.

“We’ll tell each other that so that together we can reach good compromises.”

Mr Hollande has demanded that a European fiscal pact that cracked down on overspending be renegotiated to include a greater emphasis on measures to stimulate growth, while Germany insists the treaty must be respected.

Whatever their differences, the crisis in the eurozone will put them under huge pressure to compromise, our correspondent says.

Following his German trip, Mr Hollande will hold his first cabinet meeting on Thursday followed by a visit to Washington to meet US President Barack Obama.

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