France and Germany to help boost EU economy
European Union – Germany – Joint press communiqué by the French Economy Minister and the German Finance Minister
Paris, 23 May 2017
Mr Wolfgang Schäuble, German Minister of Finance, and M. Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of the Economy, met in Berlin on 22 May, a week after the meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The two ministers agreed that Germany and France have a crucial role to play in strengthening the European Union, which is currently facing many challenges. They agreed to help restore confidence in the European Union by putting emphasis on concrete, ambitious projects with genuine European added value which should demonstrate that the EU can provide responses to citizens’ concerns amid growing globalization.
They share the analysis that confidence and integration are equally decisive for a more prosperous Monetary Union, which, despite the all-important progress made in recent years, still suffers from an incomplete economic structure. Implementing the common fiscal framework and, in some countries, dealing with the weaknesses of certain banks are crucial to restoring confidence.
The ministers discussed a large number of issues and expressed their intention to work closely together on them. They agreed that the EU internal market – with almost 500 million consumers and very many competitive businesses, often SMEs – requires a new boost in order to achieve its maximum potential in terms of employment and growth.
For the Euro Area, although the recovery is growing stronger, not all member states have fully got over the recent crisis yet, and the Euro Area is still experiencing economic weaknesses, with major macroeconomic imbalances, sluggish underlying inflation and significant financial fragmentation. In order to achieve genuine economic convergence, the ministers agreed that increased coordination and integration of economic policies are necessary. To this end, the completion of banking union in accordance with the road map decided on by the Ecofin of June 2016 must be a priority.
To strengthen Euro Area integration, several issues related to economic policies must be dealt with: national reform policies must be stepped up, high levels of public and private debt and macroeconomic imbalances must be reduced, and a convergence of corporation taxes should be encouraged.
The ministers decided to set up a Franco-German working group, which they will lead and which will examine these issues and make proposals. They also agreed to intensify relations between their respective ministries, in order to set out common positions on key European issues. The Franco-German working group will propose an ambitious road map which the ministers will be able to endorse when they meet again at the Franco-German Economic and Financial Council, ahead of the Franco-German Council of Ministers. They also planned to develop bilateral initiatives that can prefigure broader European policies in future. This may involve consulting national industrial businesses in order to strengthen Franco-German industrial cooperation.
Bruno Le Maire and Wolfgang Schäuble are both convinced that close cooperation between France and Germany is necessary. They reaffirm their commitment to excellent relations between the two countries and to the European project. Following their meeting, they went to Brussels together to take part in the May meetings of the Eurogroup and the Ecofin Council./.