French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has said that if Paris and Berlin fail to bolster the single currency union, the euro may not exist in 10 years’ time. However at the expense of weaker member states, the current system benefited Germany, Macron added.
Until he resigned last year to create his own political movement and stand as an independent candidate in this year’s presidential election, Macron was economy minister under Socialist President Francois Hollande.
“The truth is that we must collectively recognise that the euro is incomplete and cannot last without major reforms,” Macron said in a speech at the Humboldt University in Berlin.
“It has not provided Europe with full international sovereignty against the dollar on its rules. It has not provided Europe with a natural convergence between the different member states,” he added.
The centrist politician said that while Germany must accept that more investment instead of austerity can boost growth across the euro zone area, France needs to implement labour market reforms and revamp its education system to revive growth.
“The dysfunctioning of the euro is of good use to Germany, I have to say,” said Macron, adding that a lack of trust between France and Germany was blocking major reforms that would increase solidarity among the 19 members of the euro zone.
“The euro is a weak Deutsche Mark,” said Macron. “The status quo is synonymous, in 10 years’ time, with the dismantling of the euro.”
He proposed to extend financial assistance to struggling member states and the creation of a euro zone budget to finance growth-oriented investments.
However German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble have faced domestic resistance to bailouts for Greece by hawks who say such payments turn the euro zone into a “transfer union” and this would be anathema to them and whose conservatives face an election this year.
The euro zone should be split into two with a strong cluster around Germany and a weak cluster including France, the co-leader of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party had earlier told Reuters and Macron spoke after those comments.
In contrast with other politicians who often rail against “Brussels”, Macron has taken the unusual step of encouraging supporters to cheer the European Union at political rallies and is thus a rare advocate in France of deeper European integration.
Macron, 39, is believed to be within a whisker of reaching the crucial second round runoff to be held in May and has enjoyed a boost in recent polls, which show him cementing his position as the presidential election’s “third man”.
With both Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen gaining on the former prime minister, an opinion poll last week showed conservative candidate Francois Fillon’s lead in France’s presidential election race had narrowed.
(Adapted from CNBC)