Plan for eu­ro­zone fi­nance min­is­ter

French, Ger­man agree­ment

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Emily Flit­ter

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.

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