The French prime minister has used his first visit to Germany since François Hollande became president to reassure his hosts about the French economy.
It follows doubts within German government circles over the commitment in Paris to reduce deficits and embark on structural reforms.
Jean-Marc Ayrault, a German speaker, said France had rediscovered its confidence thanks to his government’s reforms over the past six months.
Angela Merkel said she would never dare to judge the French government’s decisions.
“France and Germany agree that we must do more in the field of economic-political cooperation, especially in the eurozone. We want a strong France, and France wants a strong Germany so we will become a strong Europe,” the German Chancellor told a joint news conference in Berlin.
A week before the next EU summit, the French prime minister talked of solidarity.
“The important thing is to do everything to keep Greece in the eurozone, there is a consensus on this essential point,” said Jean Marc Ayrault. “Decisions about Greece are coming up.”
The prime minister reminded his hosts that the German population was ageing quicker than the French, threatening pensions and social security.
His visit coincided with new figures revealing that that both the French and German economies had grown by 0.2 per cent during the third quarter – compared to a 0.1 per cent contraction across the eurozone as a whole.
France has been under pressure to improve competitiveness relative to Germany.
Paris has announced plans to help reduce companies’ labour costs.
But some in Berlin are worried that without stronger reforms, France could get sucked deeper into the eurozone crisis.
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