Merkel says her relationship with Hollande 'good'

16th May 2013, Comments 0 comments

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that she has a "good" relationship with French President Francois Hollande and wants to see Paris take the decisions needed for economic success.

"The German-French relationship has a very strong foundation," she told a panel discussion on Europe.

"My personal relationship with the French president is a good relationship. That doesn't mean we don't sometimes have differences on an issue."

Friction has arisen between the neighbours recently as Berlin stresses the need for belt-tightening to make growth sustainable while Paris believes higher public spending can kick-start struggling eurozone economies.

France is of "existential" significance for the EU and 17-nation eurozone, Merkel said.

It was the "true wish of every responsible German politician" that "France makes the decisions necessary to get French competitiveness to a point to be successful, that France has jobs, that youth unemployment falls -- that is our common goal".

She also responded to a recent leaked party document by Hollande's Socialist Party that accused her of "selfish intransigence" amid the eurozone debt crisis.

"When I'm accused of selfishness, then I can answer very well that of course I am not selfish, but I know that in the long term Germany will only do well when the whole of Europe does well".

"And Europe also doesn't do well when Germany is doing really badly."

Earlier her finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said Germany would not publicly criticise France over economic policy.

"We work really well together," Schaeuble said about Berlin and Paris when asked whether Germany was losing patience with its neighbour, during the same days of panel discussions in Berlin.

"We only talk positively about each other. With one another, we speak openly".

Schaeuble has also defended the European Commission's decision this month to give France two more years to meet the EU deficit target of three percent of GDP.

"We will not criticise France publicly," Schaeuble told the event organised by regional WDR TV, adding that he and his French counterpart Pierre Moscovici would cooperate "in mutual trust" as long as they were finance ministers.

However Schaeuble said that he appreciated that the commitment by France to carry out structural reforms in exchange for the two-year extension was "difficult" given French public opinion, including the position of the trade unions.

© 2013 AFP

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