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Berlin, Paris vow to speed up eurozone integration

With the Euro hitting a record high in 6 month against the dollar, France and Germany vowed Monday to accelerate eurozone integration, with a new bilateral panel to work out ways to kickstart the reform process.

“We’ve been talking about progress in eurozone integration for years, but things are not moving fast enough,” said France’s new Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire in Berlin after talks with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble. “We have now decided to get things going more quickly and further in a very concrete manner,” he said.

Schaeuble agreed that “we are convinced that Germany and France must take a leading role” in strengthening the European Union in challenging times.

The new working group will look at how the currency bloc can better coordinate economic policies, harmonize its tax regime and find potential Franco-German investment projects, according to a joint statement.

“Not only our compatriots in France and Germany but also others in the eurozone are expecting concrete proposals and concrete investments that can generate economic activity and jobs,” said Le Maire.

The bilateral panel will report to a joint ministerial meeting of the eurozone’s two biggest players in July.

Le Maire and Schaeuble’s meeting came a week after German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted France’s new President Emmanuel Macron and the two leaders vowed to give a new impetus to Europe.

Underlining the need to improve the EU’s relevance to Europeans, Le Maire pointed to France’s bitterly fought presidential election in which both the far-right and the far-left scored their highest margins since the end of World War II. “If we don’t succeed, then it will be those in the extremes who will succeed us,” warned Le Maire, adding that “our compatriots will only judge us by our results.”

On the other hand, Eurozone finance ministers, the International Monetary Fund and the Greek government failed to hammer out a final deal on Greece’s debt relief and decided to postpone a decision for their next meeting in mid-June.

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