The Franco-German juggernaut is on the move again. So say the assembled ministers of the two countries at their latest summit which has focused on reviving growth in the eurozone with investment and economic reforms.
The partners will present a plan of action in the form of an “economic paper” in early December in a bid to strengthen investment, although the Germans are ruling out any big splurge of public money.
“The situation is the eurozone is not as good as forecast. We need to know how to react to get faster growth. It’s in everyone’s interest. It’s especially in France’s interest, where we are struggling to rebuild our industrial base and cut unemployment, particularly youth unemployment. I think it’s in the interests of every European country, whatever their rate of growth or unemployment,” said French finance minister Michel Sapin.
With calls to spend ringing in their ears German ministers remain wedded to their dream of a balanced budget in 2015, and are unlikely to want to sanction anything extravagant.
“In Europe we do not need pedantry or bashing each other, but everyone has to try and handle his challenges in the common European interest. We need to maintain our competitiveness in a globalised economy and possibly expand it, so we can maintain our social standards, social security, and continue to successfully master our tasks in culture or in environmental sustainability,” said the SPD’s economics minister Sigmar Gabriel.
Germany needs to spend serious money on infrastructure upgrades, but as always, prefers exports, not internal expenditure, to drive its economy. Germany’s partners want a bigger German market they can sell into.
The other great summit theme was competitivity, and Europe’s slipping in the productivity league table.