May 31, 2018 / 9:41 AM / a year ago

Germany's Scholz keeps distance from Macron's euro zone budget

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz poses for a portrait before a Reuters interview in Berlin, Germany, May 30, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz declined to back French President Emmanuel Macron’s idea for a euro zone budget in an interview with Reuters, in a sign that Berlin and Paris may struggle to present an ambitious reform package next month.

Asked repeatedly if he supported Macron’s proposal for the creation of such a euro zone budget, Scholz said: “The French President has made various proposals in his Sorbonne speech at which we are looking as a whole very closely.”

He added: “Together with France, Germany is willing to do its part so that Europe becomes stronger.”

Scholz told Reuters that France and Germany made progress in talks about the harmonization of their corporate tax systems, the future role of the euro zone’s bailout fund ESM and the creation of a common backstop for struggling banks.

“The talks are proceeding well, I’m confident that we’ll reach good results,” Scholz said.

Scholz said he was working on a revived proposal for the introduction of a financial transaction tax that would first be introduced by a few member states and eventually apply for the bloc as a whole.

The Social Democrat finance minister said the European Union would not follow U.S. steps for banking sector deregulation.

Asked if he would back Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann to become the head of the European Central Bank next year, Scholz said: “Now is not the time to discuss the succession of Mr. Draghi who is still in office and very active.”

Reporting by Michael Nienaber and Gernot Heller; Editing by Joseph Nasr

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