Hollande, Merkel Showdown Expected

European leaders will meet Wednesday for the first summit since the French and Greek elections, amid the backdrop of the possible looming economic crisis. At nearly all the previous summits, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy beforehand to create a united strategy—but Sarkozy’s successor, François Hollande, will meet with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in Paris ahead of the summit. Hollande’s rejection of the harsh European austerity measures has cast an air of uncertainty about future economic policy, and many expect a showdown with Merkel, who is a strong advocate for budget austerity. The formal agenda of the Wednesday-evening meeting focuses on jobs and growth, and European policymakers have zeroed in on three specific programs to pump short-term life into the economy.