Macron Seeks Eurozone Reforms in Berlin
On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Marcon visited Berlin, trying to garner support from German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a set of eurozone reforms he has championed.
Prior to the discussions between the two leaders, they indicated that they would present a united front when the 19 eurozone members meet in June to debate reforms. The discussions took place as some members of Merkel's conservative alliance fear that Macron's call for further unity relating to the eurozone will result in Germany propping up debt-ridden countries.
In a press conference held before the discussions, President Macron said that there could not be a monetary union between nations without agreement. He further said that it was important at the moment for the two leaders not to get caught up in details, but instead come to agreement about common goals and political objectives.
One of Macron's objectives is to turn the EU bailout fund into what would become a European Monetary Fund. This fund would operate as a hedge against any future financial crisis like the one that occurred in 2009 and almost broke apart the zone. Other reforms Macron have suggested include establishing both a finance minister for the zone as well as a budget. All together, the zone represents budgets that total hundreds of billions of euros.
The Social Democrats (SPD), which are the minority partner in Merkel's alliance, support Macron and his initiatives. But the larger part of the coalition thinks that individual states should be responsible for their own financial well being.
Markus Kerber, who is a professor of political economy at Berlin's Technical University, is skeptical of Macron's chances of convincing Germans to go along with his plans. He says that Macron is very autocratic and that he is trying to dictate terms to Germany, but that Germany will not be so easily controlled. Kerber further said that neither the Netherlands nor the Scandinavian countries in the bloc want to be dictated about what they should do in terms of eurozone reform as well.
Together, Germany and France represent 50% of eurozone GDP, so the two must agree on any reform in order for it to have any chance of success.
Pierre Moscovici, who is the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, says that the window for reform is quickly closing. He believes that if reforms are not enacted during the June meeting, they may never be.
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