Le Maire: Franco-German cooperation ‘priority’ for Europe’s future
PARIS — Completing the eurozone’s banking framework and introducing an EU digital tax should be an immediate priority now that Germany has reached a coalition deal, France’s finance minister said today.
Bruno Le Maire issued the rallying call at POLITICO’s Capital Market Summit in Paris on Thursday, warning that failure would leave Europe “blind” to populism and at the mercy of “U.S. and Chinese” influence.
“Now is the time to act,” he said. “Let’s not wait two or three years. Let’s not wait for another economic crisis before we agree on the things we need.”
When asked about the German grand coalition deal reached on Wednesday, Le Maire welcomed it, saying: “If one believes in Europe, one has to believe in Franco-German [cooperation] … it’s a priority to keep this relationship constant and friendly.”
Specifically, he said EU leaders need to agree on a plan to reduce and share economic risks across the bloc.
interview restoring European financial unity…trough Eurozone reform https://t.co/CQnyZNsB0V
— POLITICO Europe (@POLITICOEurope) February 8, 2018
Political divisions between northern and southern governments have so far led to a stalemate on introducing things like a European deposit insurance scheme that would protect savers from future banking crises.
“I told our German friends that we cannot have a banking union without solidarity in Europe,” Le Maire said. “Technical difficulties should not impede political progress. I’m ready to reinforce the reduction of risk … it’s a question of political will.”
Le Maire also stressed the urgency of introducing an EU digital tax.
“We can’t continue taxing our [small and medium-sized companies] and allow the major corporations that have billions of dollars in capitalization [to get away],” he said. “It’s unfair and its inefficient. This spring, we have a formal proposal from the [European] Commission. We need an effective taxation of the digital giants.”