Macron urges greater euro zone convergence, presses Germany to act

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By Richard Lough

The European Union remains an incomplete project and will require changes to its treaties that bring greater convergence between euro zone member states, French President Emmanuel Macron said in comments published on Thursday.

In an interview with French regional daily Ouest France, Macron, who favours deeper European integration, said Germany was benefiting from a “dysfunctional” euro zone.

Macron, elected in May, has called for giving the euro zone a single finance minister and a common budget – a proposal that has been met with caution by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and suspicion in Berlin that German taxpayers might be left having to shoulder common debts.

Macron reiterated that he was not in favour of turning national debts of euro zone countries into a single pool of euro zone debt.

“I have never reproached Germany for being competitive,” Macron said in the interview. “But a part of German competitiveness is due to the dysfunctionalities of the euro zone, and the weakness of other economies.”

“Germany … has a strong economy, but it has demographic weaknesses, economic and trade imbalances with its neighbours and shared responsibilities to give the euro area the future it deserves.”

German business newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Wednesday that the finance ministers of Germany and France planned to present a roadmap for the harmonisation of their countries’ corporate taxes at a joint cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Macron said Germany, which has a budget surplus, must be a part of a revival in public and private investment in Europe.

Asked if Europe could rely on U.S. President Donald Trump, the centrist president, 39, said Europe needed the United States. He said he would fight the stance taken on climate change by Trump, who arrives in France later on Thursday.

Macron said a tendency towards protectionism had been reborn in the United States but despite French and U.S. differences over free trade there was still scope to “find a common space to combat unacceptable practices such as dumping.”

Trump has threatened tariffs on steel in response to oversupply in world steel markets that is largely created by China.

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Stelios Orphanides is a journalist at CyprusBusinessMail.com. To contact Stelios Orphanides: [email protected]

  • Gregos Winston

    I admire France as a nation, and France has a great deal to be proud of. Unforuntately though, the swing to the left has really damaged France’s reputation and international influence. Ever since the presidency of Hollande in 2012, and now the handover to Macron, it seems that France has just become an obedient follower of Germany. This is tragic to watch, as France was and I believe still is a proud, great power who has just been overwhelmed by a damaging swing to the left.

    • Arnt Otto Østlie

      Domestic France has some way to go to reduce class differences, and to share benefits as well as obligations more equally; so does the UK I believe. In that sense “swing to the left” may be just what is needed, and for the EU as an entity.

      • Gregos Winston

        I disagree, the swing to the left is entirely responsible for this chaotic migrant policy which was what led to a hike in racist attacks. Not surprising though when European woman and children are being raped and killed for no reason by the very migrants the left are welcoming with open arms. The EU doesn’t seem very interested in ‘reducing class differences’, instead in spreading austerity and suffering, just as long as mother Germany is making billions from people’s suffering and blood.

        • Arnt Otto Østlie

          I agree that some “left” governments have been more generous in accepting the influx of immigrants than they have been able to handle. Why some of them resort to attacking their helpers, one can wonder.

          Others have contributed in the work-force, such as the Turks in Germany; in my view this is a win-win and not exploitation.

          The austerity demanded in Greece for instance, is self-inflicted I would say. In the whole EU’s governance needs refurbishing, though, but not by dismantling it.

          • Douglas

            The problem remains that EU self elected Eurocrats are too intransigent to accept and bring about change much to the frustration of Countries that are suffering as a consequence of their policies.EU needs to listen more to the people,if not, other EU Countries will be arranging their own form of ‘Brexit’.

          • Arnt Otto Østlie

            So we agree that change is called for. I think the results of the French election is interesting, in a country often so “intransigent” that change only comes about through revolutions 😉 And the result was a call for more co-operation and integration, not less.