German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble (L) and the new French Economy minister Bruno le Maire give a press conference
24 May 2017

The Franco-German relationship is key to strengthening the European Union

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, and French Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, met in Berlin on 22 May, one week after the meeting between the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the President of the Republic, 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 have agreed to help restore confidence in the EU by placing emphasis on concrete and ambitious projects which are intended to show that the EU is able respond to the concerns of European citizens in an increasingly globalised world.
 
They share the view that confidence and integration are also key to a more prosperous monetary union which, despite the significant progress that has been made in recent years, continues to be hampered by an incomplete economic structure. The application of the common budgetary framework, and in some countries the way in which the weaknesses of certain banks are addressed, are crucial to restoring confidence.
 
The ministers discussed a wide range of issues on which they have expressed their intention to work closely together.
 
They agreed that:
 
  • The EU’s internal market, with almost 500 million consumers and a large number of competitive businesses (often SMEs), requires fresh impetus in order for its full potential to be exploited in terms of jobs and growth.
 
  • Despite an established recovery in the Eurozone, not all Member States have fully recovered from the recent crisis, and economic weaknesses still remain. To achieve genuine economic convergence, the ministers agreed that increased coordination and integration of economic policies are required. To this end, the completion of the banking union in accordance with the road map agreed at the ECOFIN meeting of June 2016 must be a priority.
 
  • Several economic policy issues must be addressed: national reform policies must be strengthened, high levels of public and private debt and macroeconomic imbalances must be reduced and convergence on company taxation should be encouraged.
 
The ministers have decided to set up a Franco-German working group, which they will lead, to study these issues and make proposals. This working group will set out an ambitious road map for developing bilateral initiatives that can act as a prelude to broader European policies in the future. This may be achieved through consulting national industrial companies 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 required. They reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining an excellent relationship between the two countries and one which will support the European project.