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German, French central bankers favor eurozone finance minister

The heads of the central banks in Germany and France have warned tighter financial cooperation between eurozone nations is required to save the European project. A joint finance ministry could be a blessing, they said.

Ahead of a Franco-German ministerial council meeting later this week, the central bank chiefs from both nations on Monday said greater financial integration could be crucial for

saving the European project from going down the drain.

Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau and Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said in a joint op-ed for the German daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung" that the current state of the eurozone was far from ideal, adding that European Union integration was at a crossroads.

The two bankers noted the European debt crisis had not fully been overcome yet, saying there was no shortage of challenges for the eurozone and the larger European Union.

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Investment and supervision

They specifically mentioned high unemployment rates in many member states, sluggish growth and no sustainable program yet to deal with the continuing influx of refugees.

Weidmann and de Galhau said what was needed most was the implementation of far-reaching structural reforms in the nation states to fight imbalances. But they also came out in support of an ambitious financial and investment union on the Continent.

The two central bank chiefs noted the ECB's monetary policy had helped to cushion the effect of the global financial crisis, but what it could not create was long-term sustainable growth in the eurozone.

They said a joint finance ministry for the eurozone could be one promising way of harmonizing the bloc's fiscal policies. But that, they emphasized, would hinge on member states' willingness to cede more powers to European institutions.

hg/cjc (dpa, AFP)

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