Jens Weidmann

Europe's Reluctant Champion

Jens Weidmann DPA
Deeper fiscal integration may be on the cards.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    A euro-zone finance ministry would limit the national sovereignty of member states, but potentially prevent future debt crises.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The European Central Bank sets monetary policy, but the euro-zone member states have control over their national budgets.
    • European leaders from Francois Hollande to Wolfgang Schäuble have called for greater fiscal coordination to prevent the imbalances that led to the debt crisis.
    • Creating a euro-zone finance ministry would require E.U. treaty reform, ratification by 28 parliaments, a governmental conference and several referendums.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Jens Weidmann isn’t known for being in agreement with his colleagues at the European Central Bank. Often the lone voice of opposition, the head of Germany’s Bundesbank regularly takes his case to the public through the media, slamming policies like the ECB’s massive bond-buying program.

Mr. Weidmann’s positions often made him the target of criticism in France, which supports a more liberal monetary policy to shore up heavily indebted southern European nations. When the German central banker arrives in Paris on Tuesday for the Franco-German economic and financial council, however, he can expect an unusually warm welcome.

That’s because, for once, Mr. Weidmann is publicly supporting more European intervention and not less. In an editorial in the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday, he joined forces with his French counterpart Villeroy de Galhau to make the case for a European finance ministry.

According to the two central bankers, the euro zone is at a cross roads, facing a stark choice. The currency union can either give the 19 member states greater control over monetary policy, while demanding they adhere to strict rules, or it can push ahead with greater integration and centralization.

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