German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he’s worried about Germany’s image in Europe, as he signaled a readiness to listen to others on efforts to overcome the region’s economic troubles.
Schaeuble, addressing students in Berlin today alongside French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, said they both agree on the need to hasten banking union and that no one country has a monopoly on how to resolve Europe’s woes. It’s “good” that Germans show compassion for countries in southern Europe that are shouldering record youth unemployment, Schaeuble said.
“It’s not the case in Europe, never, that some know it all and the others don’t,” Schaeuble said. “That is all wrong. Germany can learn a lot from other countries and we have to.” He and Moscovici “work on how we can benefit from the experiences of each other,” Schaeuble said.
The ministers spoke at an event on German-French economic collaboration as part of ceremonies to mark 50 years of the two countries’ post-World War II reconciliation. Moscovici, while saying that policies during the debt crisis must tilt toward bolstering growth and away from austerity, said that Europe is founded on compromise and rejected “caricatures” of Germany.
Schaeuble said that banking union is a “priority project” for the coming months “and we’ll quickly move it forward,” as Moscovici had advocated. While closer economic and political integration may ultimately require changes to the European Union’s treaty, that’s not the case for now, he said.
“Of course we also need institutional changes in the medium term,” Schaeuble said. “But of course we can’t wait, given the inertia we have in Europe, until we achieve treaty changes to solve current problems. Therefore, we need to do the best we can on the basis of the existing treaties.”
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