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Great expectations as world leaders gather

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-04-02

The G20 summit opens in London on Thursday burdened by huge expectations. While US President Barack Obama has repeated calls for unity, France and Germany have promised an uncompromising stance on the subject of financial regulation.

G20 leaders are gathering in London on April 2 for a key meeting devoted to finding solutions to the global economic crisis.

US President Barack Obama has joined the summit's host, British premier Gordon Brown, in downplaying differences between members, in an effort to defuse tensions ahead of the meeting.



But it wasn’t enough to bridge the gap with some European leaders, chief of whom the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. France had earlier threatened to walk out of the summit if members failed to act decisively in strengthening global financial regulation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel lent her support to Sarkozy, saying that she would reject "feeble compromises". But her French counterpart's walkout threat was "not the best idea", her spokesman added.
 
In a joint press conference, the two western European leaders stressed their common desire to establish a new regulatory framework for the global financial system.   
 
"Without new regulations, there will be no confidence. And without confidence there will be no recovery. It's a major aim, non-negotiable," Sarkozy said during the press conference. But both the US and the UK have voiced reservations.

This is far from being the only sticking point. The US and most EU countries - France and Germany in particular - disagree on the best course of action to stop the recession. Washington has been urging Europe to do more in terms of fiscal stimulus, but governments in Paris and Berlin argue they have done enough already to boost consumer spending at home.

While agreement is virtually unanimous on the need to crack down on tax havens, not all G20 leaders agree on the method. Once again, France and Germany are leading efforts to draw up a black list of all the countries that breach the OECD's standards of transparency.

"It is very clear that there must be a list and the margin for negotiation is on whether the list will be published right away or in a few days," Sarkozy said Wednesday.

But it will take a lot more to convince the US, who has questioned the method used to tackle tax havens, explains Stephanie Antoine, FRANCE 24's special correspondent in London. “Washington would prefer a softer approach,” she says. “Some sort of evaluation scale for each country.”
 

Date created : 2009-04-01

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