France’s new Socialist finance minister has attempted to reassure Germany, its closest partner, that his country would stick to promised deficit reductions and step up economic reforms to accelerate sluggish growth.
During a visit to Berlin Finance Minister Michel Sapin said: “We need higher growth. It is vital for our economy. It is vital for reducing unemployment, which is far too high in France and vital for us to fulfill our duties. But there are budgets that are based on real, difficult and courageous decisions. Decisions taken by France can be respected for 2015, 2016 and 2017.”
Speaking to reporters, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble expressed confidence that France can meet its commitments: “France knows its responsibilities and this was just confirmed by Mr Sapin. and by the way we don’t give each other marks. We know that we depend on each other. Germany needs a strong France.”
When pressed on the pace of deficit reduction, Sapin declined to comment, saying France’s new Prime Minister Manuel Valls would set out the government’s policy in a keynote speech to parliament on Tuesday.