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France and Germany call for stronger eurozone

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France and Germany call for stronger eurozone
Photo: DPA
08:35 CEST+02:00
The French and German economy ministers, in a joint statement to be published in European newspapers Thursday, call for a strengthened eurozone with a common budgetary mechanism and tools to avoid the kind of debt problems Greece is suffering.

The French and German economy ministers, in a joint statement to be published in European newspapers Thursday, call for a strengthened eurozone with a common budgetary mechanism and tools to avoid the kind of debt problems Greece is suffering.

"It's time to strengthen the eurozone by way of the EU's biggest reform," Emmanuel Macron and his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel said in the comments published by France's Le Figaro, Britain's The Guardian, Germany's Die Welt, Spain's El Pais and other European dailies.

The German and French ministers also stressed that "a stronger eurozone should be the core of a deepened EU."

The current set up has "faults" which must be repaired "so that the euro maintains its promise of economic prosperity and, more broadly, prevents Europe from drifting towards discontent and divisions," the French and German ministers said.

"We must reconcile general European interests and national interests," they added, alluding to "anti-European forces" developing in some EU nations.

French economy ministry sources said that the initiative to better knit the eurozone had two main strands: a common budget capacity and solidarity mechanisms to be rapidly available to help "countries in difficulty".

The call comes as indebted Greece's eurozone partners and its creditors in the EU and the International Monetary Fund seek a deal by Friday, when Athens must repay 300 million euros to the IMF as part of a multi-billion euro bailout deal.

It also comes as British Prime Minister David Cameron seeks EU reforms and "a better deal for Britain" ahead of an in-out membership referendum he has promised by 2017.

Macron and Gabriel, who is also Germany's vice chancellor, called for "an embryo euro area budget" and "a fiscal capacity over and above national budgets" to act as economic stabilisers.

This could mean, for example, a common fund to quickly help national economies in difficulty, a French ministry source said.

The German and French ministers also stressed that "a stronger eurozone should be the core of a deepened EU."

For the wider EU of 28 nations they propose "new steps" towards a better integrated internal market with a targeted approach in some key sectors, such as energy and hi-tech.

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