Macron and Scholz hand in hand to maintain European growth

The new German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, on Friday December 10 reserved his first visit abroad for French President Emmanuel Macron, who is counting on Berlin’s support to carry out a series of projects during the French presidency of the European Union ( PFUE) in the first half of 2022.

Following a long post-war tradition, the Social Democrat, who succeeded Angela Merkel on Wednesday, went to Paris as soon as the first domestic issues were taken in hand in Berlin, starting with the health crisis. He was welcomed by Emmanuel Macron for a working lunch, which was to be largely devoted to Europe, twenty-one days before the PFUE and the day after the presentation of his priorities by the Head of State.

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Growth and “financial strength” not incompatible

“It is a question of maintaining this growth which was generated by the recovery pact [européen post-Covid]. At the same time, we must work on the soundness of our finances ”Mr Scholz said at a joint press conference with Mr Macron. “It’s not contradictory. For me, these are two sides of the same effort “, he added, while being sure that Paris and Berlin “Will arrive at common concepts on this question”.

The French president proposed Thursday to “Rethinking the budgetary framework” of Europe so far defined by the Maastricht criteria, which in particular limit the public deficits of euro-zone countries to 3% of their GDP. Emmanuel Macron agreed, like Olaf Scholz, that it was necessary “Maintain a serious budget” in the eurozone, but also underlined the need to “Maintain growth” in Europe and there ” to build “ new industrial champions in order to strengthen their “Sovereignty”. “We must find the mechanisms – either the flexibilities or the new rules – which will allow us to hold together these three objectives”, he insisted.

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Coalition agreement

Sign of the central place of Europe for the new government in power in Berlin, Olaf Scholz will travel to Brussels to meet the leaders of the institutions of the European Union there and prepare for the European summit on December 16 and 17. Hailed by Paris, the roadmap for the next four years signed by Olaf Scholz with his ecological and liberal coalition allies testifies to new ambitions on the German side in terms of European policy, after the lukewarmness of the Merkel years on the subject.

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This coalition agreement offers a “Extremely solid working basis” to reform Europe, underlined the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune. On several priorities of the French presidency – the minimum wage, the carbon tax at the EU’s borders or European strategic sovereignty – the new German government has already shown its willingness.

Berlin also wants to unlock this year “60 billion euros” of public funds to finance “Investments for the future”, in particular in order to achieve the climate objectives of the new coalition, announced Friday the Minister of Finance, Christian Lindner.

These funds will be taken from ” a part “ new debts contracted under the 2021 budget to deal with the coronavirus pandemic but which have not “Not been used”, said the minister belonging to the liberal FDP party, who took office on Wednesday.

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The World with AFP

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Macron and Scholz hand in hand to maintain European growth