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Turning a Page on the Financial CrisisNicolas Sarkozy, President, The French Republic We have not emerged from the economic crisis, but we are in the process of turning a page on the financial crisis. The strategy we have implemented is in the process of bearing fruit. Spreads - the interest rate levels at which states borrow money on the market - have returned to their pre-summer 2011 levels. As for France, spreads have reduced by 100 basis points. Today, France borrows at a rate significantly below 3 per cent.So how has the system worked? How have we withstood the financial crisis? Why are we turning a page on this financial crisis, which could have swept away the Euro Area and the whole of Europe? Because over recent months we have profoundly reformed the European Union, the European Economic and Monetary Union. Let us look at the distance we have travelled since December 2011. We have considerably speeded up the pace of decision-making. At the beginning of December 2011 we decided on a treaty. It was signed in March 2012. To all those who talked about a succession of summits bringing no results, here is the clearest refutation: a financial crisis that is passing by and a rate of decision-making that I think has never been seen in Europe: just think of it, a treaty in December and the signing of the treaty in March. The European strategy has been coherent, with four components: n a budgetary consolidation component - we couldnot continue building up deficits and debtn a solidarity component - the European StabilityMechanism treaty, implemented in advance, because we decided to apply it as of this summer, even though it was due to be applied on 1 " We must promote growth, competitiveness, research and innovation "July 2013n convergence - that is very important: it was thegreat weakness of the Maastricht Treaty, which did not organise convergence, the convergence among the 17 [Euro Area countries] that is the goal of the treaty we have just signed n and finally governance - because the treatyestablishes an economic government of Europe, because the treaty signed today and the ESM (the support and financial solidarity mechanism) form a single entity. Remember, less than two years ago we could not utter the words "economic governance": today, not only are those words in the treaty but it is also one of the facts of the treaty.We have established a monetary policy of massive support for financial stability and for growth: two three-year operations between December and February, with a total value in excess of ?1 trillion. I explained to you in December that this monetary strategy would enable us to reduce the pressure on sovereign debt; it worked. And I want to congratulate the governor of the European Central Bank, Mr Draghi. As you know, an unlimited supply of liquid assets was made available to the banks, at a rate of return of 1 per cent over three years. And I told you this supply of liquid assets at 1 per cent over three years would allow the European banks to buy sovereign debt and reduce the pressure on financing government debt; that is exactly what happened. And then we had to find a solution to the Greek crisis. The Greek debt operation was launched on 24 February, and it's enabled us to reduce the Greek debt by ?107 billion. And today the elements for solving the Greek crisis are in place.What do we still have to do? Finalise the introduction of firewalls. We decided today to release two tranches Pictured: Nicolas SarkozyCredit: UMP photo024 g8 member countries

of the ESM's capital in 2012. France pre-empted that decision, which has already been approved by parliament. Let me remind you that parliament approved a ?6.5 billion stake in the ESM's capital.We must promote growth, competitiveness, research and innovation. The European Council today recommends, for example, reducing the tax burden on labour. That is exactly our strategy. So it is a huge relief to see European summits no longer being devoted to the financial crisis. And it is a huge relief to see that the crisis is no longer in the news - as it was morning, noon and night -, because we are in the process of turning a page on this financial crisis. We must now put all our strength into gradually alleviating the economic crisis. n This is an excerpt from the press conference given by President Nicolas Sarkozy on 2 March 2012 in Brussells. Source: The French Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs. g8 member countries 025