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Chancellor Angela Merkel and leader Francois Hollande's appeal for German-French unity to tackle Europe's ills lasted all of three hours as they disagreed over closer integration of the region's banking system.
The two leaders, marking Franco-German reconciliation after World War II, delivered back-to-back speeches in which they hailed their mutual ties, tried out each other's language and pledged to work together for a more unified Europe to defeat the money crisis. The bonhomie broke down at a subsequent press conference when they failed to mask their differences on a planned "banking union" meant to achieve that end.
"The earlier, the better," Hollande told reporters in the German town of Asperg today, saying that banking union is "an important step in our targets" with a goal of implementation by year's end. Merkel, standing alongside Hollande, declined to set a target date, saying there's no point doing something fast if it then doesn't work.