Wednesday

22nd Aug 2018

French minister: Rich EU states should transfer money to poorer members

  • "Status quo leads to self-destruction," says Emmanuel Macron. (Photo: OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS)

French economy minister Emmanuel Macron is calling for "a new foundation of Europe", with a more integrated eurozone and fiscal transfers between richer and poorer countries.

"Status quo leads to self-destruction," he said in an interview with Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

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"Political and economical centrifugal forces are too strong" not to change things, he added.

Macron is proposing the creation of a euro commissioner with "extended powers" over the single currency, EU economy and finances, as well as employment and investment policies.

This super-commissioner would manage an increased EU budget to protect member states from financial shocks and foster investments.

"The higher the budget is, the more credible Europe is," Macron said, adding "we need a big leap".

He also suggests the eurozone should have its own parliament, composed of "MEPs who belong to eurozone countries".

New treaty

"We can already prepare the modifications of EU treaties", and implement them after the French and German elections in 2017, the French minister said.

"In 2018 or 2019, Europe would stand on a new, better basis".

But this vision, he notes, "breaks a German taboo" on the issue of transfer union.

"If the member states, like before, are not ready for any kind of financial transfers in the monetary union, we can forget the euro and the eurozone," he said.

"There cannot be a monetary union with no financial equalisation. The strong must help".

Macron's interview follows proposals made by French president Francois Hollande in July for a more integrated eurozone.

But he has dropped Hollande's idea of a "eurozone vanguard", while including the controversial transfer union proposal.

Whether Macron is acting as Hollande's messenger to speak to Germany's government and public opinion, or trying to boost his own stature at the European level, is unclear.

The 37-year old minister ruffled feathers in France last week when he criticised the 35-hour week, saying that "the left was wrong when it thought France would be better if it worked less".

The comments embarrassed Hollande's socialist government.

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