France, Germany Pledge Push to Settle Euro Differences by June
(Bloomberg) — France and Germany plan to narrow differences over how far to go in integrating the euro area in time to present a “road map” in June, the finance ministers of both countries said.
“It would be irresponsible to deny that we have differences, and that there are technical difficulties,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters Friday after talks in Paris with Germany’s Olaf Scholz. “We have progressed, but it would also be irresponsible to make big declarations.”
The meeting, Scholz’s first foreign trip as German finance chief, underscored the challenge of resolving one of Europe’s core disputes even after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new government took office Wednesday following an almost six-month wait.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposals last year for deeper ties between the 19 euro-area countries have met with a guarded response in Germany and were put on hold by a post-election stalemate in Berlin.
Scholz, whose Social Democrats generally favor bolder moves to tighten the euro area, said “we must move forward” on plans for what is known as banking union, which Macron has proposed extending to joint deposit insurance. He’s also calling for a euro-area finance minister and joint bond issuance to fund investments and research.
Merkel to Paris
Le Maire and Scholz said the road map, to be prepared for a European Union summit in June, would include issues such as banking union and aligning German and French taxes.
Macron plans to receive Merkel for talks later Friday. German chancellors traditionally visit Paris, capital of the euro area’s second-biggest economy, on their first trip abroad after being sworn in.
Asked by a French reporter if he planned to be an advocate for greater euro-zone integration within Merkel’s new cabinet, Scholz said “Ja,” or yes. Le Maire, who speaks German, responded “danke” — thank you.
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