It was May 2012 and the newly-elected President François Hollande was attending his first European Union summit. Speaking to journalists he defended the broad outline of his growth pact and acknowledged disagreements with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In particular, he noted, they differed on the idea of Eurobonds, a way of spreading the load of European debt to relieve the pressure on those states under attack from the markets. The French head of state had made this one of his priorities.