Plan for eurozone finance minister
French, German agreement
GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday that she was open to the creation of a finance minister and budget for the eurozone as proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron.
“I have nothing against a eurozone budget (and) we can talk about creating a European finance minister,” Merkel said after talks in Paris with Macron.
“We agree that the eurozone must be stabilised and further developed,” Merkel said at a joint press conference with the French leader. “It is in our greatest interest that all eurozone countries are strong,” she said.
Macron has warned Germany that it must move to correct the “dysfunctions” of the eurozone and give it “the fate it deserves”.
A eurozone budget and finance minister would require changes to EU treaties.
Merkel reiterated yesterday that major reforms would have to wait until after September elections in Germany – which her centre-right Christian Democratic Union is expected to win.
“We need a mandate from parliament, which we will seek after the elections,” she said.
The two leaders announced plans to build a joint fighter jet as part of a drive to cement their countries’ co-operation and strengthen the EU.
“The aim of this fighter jet for a new generation is first to launch a common research and development programme to be able to plan it together, and then for our two armies to be able to use it together. I confirm to you, it’s a profound revolution, but we are not afraid of revolutions,” Macron said.
Singling out cyber-security the two leaders vowed to deepen European integration on defence, counter-terrorism and immigration.
The German Chancellor was questioned about Macron’s ideas for greater integration in the eurozone that have brought suspicion in Berlin. On his proposal for a single finance minister, parliament and budget, Merkel said she agreed in principle.
“Personally I was always in favour, it’s about how (to create a European finance minister). In general I’m not against a euro budget. In 2012 I proposed a small eurozone budget, but I failed big time back then. I’m very glad this idea is now back on the table,” she said.
Klaus Regling, who heads up the EU’s rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism, appeared to back Macron’s reforms in an interview with the German business daily Handelsblatt. He said the eurozone should have a “limited joint fiscal capability” to support individual states in case of a sudden crisis.
Earlier, in a newspaper interview, President Macron called on Germany to take action to help put right a “dysfunctional” eurozone, by accepting more public and private investment in Europe.
The French and German leaders also visited a youth centre in northern Paris which provides German language lessons, and held a meeting with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. Together with EU representatives they pledged support for a G5 Sahel alliance – a joint military force (from Mauritania, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger) to fight Islamist extremists.
Merkel’s visit to Paris coincided with that of Donald Trump, but there were no plans for the German leader to meet the US president. Both leaders showed they were keen to revive the traditional German “engine” within the EU. They talked about working closely in many areas, however it will be difficult for both countries to act on key projects until after the German elections in September.
Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, left, and Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, adjust their earpieces during a news conference following a Franco-German joint cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris yesterday.