BERLIN May 3 Germany's fixation on the idea
that other European countries want its money has clouded its
view on the need for closer euro zone integration, and this
stance must change, said a top adviser to French presidential
frontrunner Emmanuel Macron.
Jean Pisani-Ferry, the economist who oversaw the
construction of Macron's election programme, told German weekly
Die Zeit that a victory for the centrist candidate over his
far-right rival Marine Le Pen on Sunday would be a "strong
signal for more Europe".
And he made clear that Macron, if he wins, would expect
Germany to engage with Paris on reform of the euro zone, saying
the currency bloc needed its own budget, both to boost
investment and to bolster its ability to react to crises.
"The EU cannot remain as it is," Pisani-Ferry was quoted as
saying. "After the elections in Germany in September, at the
latest, we will have to look very closely at what has gone wrong
and what we can do better."
"We have understood that Germany does not want to be and
cannot be the paymaster for Europe. The problem however, is that
Germany's obsession with the idea that it is all about money has
distorted its view of what we need to change in Europe so that
the currency union works," he added.
In addition to introducing a euro zone budget, Macron
supports the idea of a finance minister for the bloc, converting
the ESM bailout fund into a full-fledged monetary fund similar
to the IMF, and pressing ahead with the completion of the bloc's
He has said his first priority as president would be to
reform the French economy. This, he says, would help restore
trust with Germany and make it easier for the euro zone's two
biggest countries, long seen as the motor of European
integration, to press ahead with reforms of the bloc.
Officials in the German government are openly backing Macron
in the runoff with Le Pen, who is threatening to pull France out
of the EU and euro.
But hardliners around Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble
are leery about any steps to pool financial resources in Europe
and believe structural reforms in France and other countries are
the key to strengthening the euro zone.
(Reporting by Noah Barkin; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)