German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici announced yesterday the creation of a joint working group to develop plans for a euro-zone banking union and promote stability in the bloc, Wall Street Journal informs. The two ministers were speaking to reporters at the Berlin finance ministry on the sidelines of bilateral talks, which they described as routine consultations between the two countries. “We will start in the next days and weeks a working group between our ministries to prepare forthcoming decisions in bilateral cooperation,” Schaeuble told reporters after meeting his French counterpart Pierre Moscovici. Schaeuble said the group would look at preparing joint proposals for the Eurogroup meetings of finance ministers, strengthening the fiscal and currency union and boosting the currency bloc’s growth. It would also coordinate on decisions taken by Chancellor Angela Merkel and French Prime Minister Francois Hollande. “We decided that we needed to deepen our consultations,” said Moscovici. He also said that France would bring its deficit below the 3 percent of GDP threshold next year but declined to offer details of an expected downward revision to the government’s growth forecast, euronews.com informs. The government is currently forecasting growth of 1.2 percent for 2013. The bilateral working group would focus on setting up a banking union, developing a European fiscal union and measures to stabilize the euro, he said.
German leaders dismiss call for greek euro exit
Germany’s centre-right government has criticised a leading conservative politician for suggesting that Greece will have to leave the eurozone, according to BBC. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said “bullying” of Greece must stop. And in a TV interview Chancellor Angela Merkel said “everyone should weigh their words very carefully”. Earlier, Christian Social Union leader Alexander Dobrindt, an ally of Merkel, said he expected Greece to leave the eurozone in 2013. He said he saw “no way round” a Greek exit. He also called the European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi “Europe’s currency forger”. His party, a junior coalition partner of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), is preparing for an election in Bavaria and Germany’s general elections next year. Last week Merkel reiterated that she wanted Greece to stay in the eurozone. And on Sunday she told German ARD television that “we are in a very decisive phase in combating the euro debt crisis”. At the weekend the German and French governments indicated that Greece’s plea for a two-year “breathing space” in meeting its bailout obligations was unacceptable.