France, Germany still split on eurozone reforms, French official says

France and Germany have made progress but have yet to agree on a roadmap for euro zone reforms, French and German officials told Reuters after finance ministers from both countries held talks in Paris on Saturday.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have promised to present a joint reform proposal at a European Union summit on June 27-28, but differences remain on euro zone issues and banking regulation.

The euro zone’s two biggest economies differ on how to balance Macron’s call for more solidarity in Europe with Merkel’s insistence that tax payers in richer countries should not end up paying for government failures in poorer ones.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire met with his German counterpart, Olaf Scholz, in Paris on Saturday in an attempt to narrow their differences.

“We discussed all outstanding issues and made substantial progress, exchanging papers and talking throughout the night,” a French official said. “We still have some work to do before being able to agree on a roadmap.”

A German finance ministry spokesman said: “We have made significant progress with our French friends towards a reform proposal for the euro zone and we will continue our talks next week.”

The French official confirmed that both ministers agreed to continue their negotiations during the week, probably by video conference.

Scholz has suggested the creation of a Europe-wide unemployment insurance system to make the euro zone more resilient to future economic shocks. The Social Democrat also wants to introduce a financial transaction tax.

On Friday, speaking at a business conference in Berlin, Le Maire had welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s support for the idea of a euro zone investment budget, one of French President Emmanuel Macron’s key demands. But he said France and Germany had “a way to go” to reach a truly ambitious common position.

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