Germany, France pledge new effort to strengthen eurozone

Germany, France pledge new effort to strengthen eurozone

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble addresses a news conference at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Baden-Baden, Germany, March 18, 2017. That contrasts with guarded comments by Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, a Christian Democrat, who said euro-area finance ministers were discussing the matter on Monday in Brussels.

"In general we are so far that we have, in line with what we agreed in May of a year ago, a political conclusion to create the conditions to pay the second tranche on time", Schaeuble said.

Germany and France could either propose a joint corporate tax system of their own or concentrate on pushing ahead efforts for a harmonized assessment basis for corporate tax at the European Union level, Schaeuble said.

"Both are ambitious", he conceded, noting that wider tax harmonization is hard because it would require consensus among European Union leaders.

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

This was the first meeting between the representatives of the two largest economies in Europe, after Emmanuel Macron's election as the French President.

He offered assurances that "France will respect its European obligations in terms of (budget) deficit reduction". "With Brexit, there is this opportunity, and we expect to seize this opportunity".

"Despite the now strengthening economic recovery in the euro zone, not all member states have recovered completely from the last crisis, and the euro zone is economically vulnerable due to major macroeconomic imbalances, low core inflation and significant financial fragmentation", it said.

"With Brexit, we see the possibility for our financial companies to become more attractive than they were before", said Le Maire, adding that this meant "jobs and wealth for our countries". "We want to use this historic window of opportunity that opened up with the election in France".

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