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France, Italy join forces against 'high priests of austerity'

The left-wing leaders of France and Italy launched an offensive Tuesday against strict EU budget policies, warning two days ahead of a key summit that austerity was holding back economic growth. Top austerity promoter Berlin however showed no sign of backing down, as European Union leaders prepare to gather in Brussels from Thursday to name the 28-nation bloc’s top officials. France’s Socialist President Francois Hollande and Italy’s popular new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi have been leading a charge against the rigid application of a rule requiring that budget deficits not exceed three percent of annual gross domestic product.

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