Thursday

27th Jul 2017

France and Germany in tussle over EU economics post

  • Schaeuble - not keen on France having in the EU economic affairs portfolio (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Germany and France are locked in a tussle about who should be the next EU economic affairs commissioner, a decision that will send a key symbolic message about how euro rules will be implemented in the future.

Paris wants the portfolio for itself and Pierre Moscovici, a Socialist and former finance minister, is the touted name.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But Berlin has baulked at the idea, suggesting it is not appropriate for a French person to hold the post when their native country is having difficulty adhering to euro rules.

France has already had two EU deadline extensions, as it tries to bring its budget deficit below the required three percent of GDP threshold.

At an event earlier this month, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said: "France will present figures in autumn and the commission will examine them and if it has doubts about the figures then that’s a real problem.”

He later said his opposition was "not about Mr Moscovici".

However, a joint interview between Schaeuble and his French counterpart Michel Sapin with newspapers Handelsblatt and Les Echoes, published Sunday, illustrates the depth of the differences.

Referring to who should run the economics portfolio, held until very recently by Finland's Olli Rehn, a fiscal hawk, Schaeuble said: "These types of decisions are very sensitive. These decisions have a symbolic weight and we have to keep that in mind."

Sapin, for his part, said that "it is legitimate that France has an important post in the commission. An economic post would, to my mind, correspond to France's economic power and its ability to contribute to good working of the EU institutions."

Countering Berlin's argument that it would be difficult for a French commissioner to be strict in applying the euro rules to France, Sapin said that some people have said it could be "dangerous" for France to have the dossier because that person would want to be "even more irreproachable and even harder on France. So that could reassure German opinion".

The dispute comes amid wider division, broadly between northern and southern member states, about how the euro's rules should be interpreted.

Italy has led the charge for them to be loosened to allow for more public investment to spur growth, while France argues that struggling states should be allowed more time to get their fiscal houses in order.

Germany, which has led the eurozone's response to the crisis over the past five years, fears these steps mean that countries are simply avoiding doing necessary structual reforms.

The simmering dispute, which has come to the fore as Brussels has its five-year changing of the guard this year, has crystallised over the commission's economics commissioner, who has discretionary power over how the euro's rules are applied.

Outlining the difference in vision, Sapin noted that "the question is what is the best policy to pursue for Europe, which is exiting a crisis of exceptional gravity, to find the path to solid and sustainable growth."

Greece looking at bond market return

Greece could issue 3-year bonds as early as this week, for the first time in three years, amid mixed signs from its creditors and rating agencies.

News in Brief

  1. Werner Hoyer re-appointed as EU investment bank chief
  2. Spanish PM denies knowledge of party corruption
  3. France 'routinely' abuses migrants, says NGO
  4. Swedish government rocked by data scandal
  5. Member states relocate 3,000 migrants in June
  6. Top EU jurist says Malta's finch-trapping against EU law
  7. EU judges rule to keep Hamas funds frozen
  8. EU court rejects passenger data deal with Canada

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  2. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  3. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  5. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  6. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  7. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  9. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  10. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  11. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  12. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug

Latest News

  1. Corbyn re-opens Labour's single market wound
  2. Visegrad lobby makes food quality an EU issue
  3. EU court could dismiss national borders in cyberspace
  4. Confusion swirls around Macron's Libya 'hotspots'
  5. Insults fly after EU ultimatum to Poland
  6. UK requests EU migration study, 13 months after Brexit vote
  7. EU defends airline data-sharing after court ruling
  8. Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis