France’s new economy minister and his German counterpart have said they will work together to strengthen and integrate the eurozone.
After their first formal meeting, in Berlin, Wolfgang Schaeuble and Bruno Le Maire promised to move forward on stalled reforms to boost growth and employment and to resist populism.
Among the issues they want to make progress on are tax convergence, coordination of economic policies and joint Franco-German investment. The results of a working group are due to be presented in July
Schaeuble spoke of the special leadership role of the two countries and said: “We know that one of the main challenges right now for both of us is to make our contribution as finance ministers to the promotion of Europe at a time of opportunities but also challenges. We know that a strengthening of the eurozone will be decisive.”
Responsibility to deliver
The French minister told reporters at a joint news conference of their responsibility to deliver results: “There’s been talk of this for many many years, that we need developments in moving the eurozone forward, but it’s not happening fast enough and has not gone far enough. We want things to move faster, go further and for it this to happen in a concrete manner.”
He warned that have to succeed to avoid giving ground to “the extremes” and noted the strong performance of far-left and far-right candidates in France’s recent presidential election.
Monday’s meeting – one week after President Emmanuel Macron met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin – was an effort to inject fresh dynamism into the partnership.
Merkel said at a separate event on Monday that Germany must help Macron to succeed to fight unemployment and added that the best way to counter eurosceptic populists was to solve problems.
BrunoLeMaire</a> et Wolfgang Schäuble annoncent un groupe de travail 🇫🇷🇩🇪 sur l'approfondissement de la zone euro → <a href="https://t.co/P7vg4hz6S1">https://t.co/P7vg4hz6S1</a> 🇪🇺 <a href="https://t.co/ERo8egGNYb">pic.twitter.com/ERo8egGNYb</a></p>— Avec Bruno Le Maire (AvecBLM) May 22, 2017
Le Maire was also asked about Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. He said Brexit presents the eurozone, France and Germany with opportunities in financial markets.
“We see in Brexit the possibility for our financial sectors to be more attractive than they were in the past. This means jobs, work, and wealth for our countries. Brexit gives us this opportunity and we intend on seizing this opportunity.”