The traditional Franco-German twin engine of European integration is tugging hard for new rules on how all the members manage their budgets.
The Luxembourg EU presidency has its work cut out:
It has to reconcile those who support an easing of the Stability and Growth Pact with smaller members who object to some of the new proposals.
Luxembourg is aiming to clinch a deal among the European finance ministers on the overhaul of the pact ahead of a leaders’ summit two weeks away.
The current French government is fielding its fourth finance minister, Thierry Breton.
Paris, Berlin and others who have exceeded deficit ceilings want the reforms being discussed in Brussels to include “get-out clauses”;
These would exempt certain costs from being taken into account when deciding who has breached the pact.