Franco-German working group for euro debt | News | DW | 28.08.2012
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Franco-German working group for euro debt

The French and German finance ministers have announced closer cooperation in combating the eurozone's sovereign debt difficulties. After a meeting in Berlin, the pair said a new bilateral working group would be formed.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and his French counterpart Pierre Moscovici said that the new working group would be set up in the coming days and weeks.

The group would "work together very closely to bilaterally prepare the upcoming decisions," Schäuble told reporters in Berlin on Monday.

Issues including a possible banking union, the strengthening of the fiscal and currency union and what to do with Greece would be discussed by the new bilateral body, Schäuble said.

Moscovici said after the meeting that he and Schäuble were demonstrating France and Germany's desire to improve their cooperation.

"We are committed to the eurozone's continuity … and its stability. We have therefore decided to examine several questions in a bilateral working group," Moscovici said, adding that the group would deal with "implementing decisions made on Greece and Spain but also more structural issues, in terms of banking supervision, banking union and European integration."

The pair met just four days after Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted French President Francois Hollande in Berlin last Thursday. Merkel meets Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in the German capital on Wednesday.

Schäuble says stimulus packages possible

Schäuble also said in Berlin on Monday, in a statement that would seem to support the presidential election campaign platform of Hollande from earlier in the year, that it would be necessary to take steps designed to boost growth in Europe.

"We are generally facing, throughout the world economy but certainly also in Europe, a weaker phase of economic development," Schäuble said.

Hollande campaigned on a platform of fiscal stimulus as well as cost-cutting, a position that seemed at odds with German policies on the so-called "debt crisis." The Socialist French president is not as ideologically aligned with Merkel's Christian Democrats as his center-right predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy. As the eurozone's two largest countries in terms of population and gross domestic product, France and Germany command a sizeable share of voting rights within the European Union.

msh/sej (AFP, dapd, dpa)