Euro Divided

Stepping Back from the Brink, French and German Finance Ministers Seek Common Ground

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and his French counterpart Michel Sapin attend a news briefing after talks in Berlin July 17, 2014.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    France and Germany are critical to getting European Union policy off the ground. Their most recent dispute over who should get the top E.U. finance job, has stalled the appointment of a new European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm.

  • Facts


    • Wolfgang Schäuble, a member of the right-leaning Christian Democrats, has been leading Germany’s finance ministry since 2009. French Finance Minister Michel Sapin, of the left-leaning Socialist Party, became finance minister in April.
    • At 5.1 percent, Germany’s unemployment rate is half that of France’s 10.1 percent. Both are lower than the euro zone average of 11.6 percent.
    • Germany’s trade surplus has surged during the crisis and is projected to reach 7.3 percent of economic output in 2014. France’s has fallen to a projected deficit of 1.7 per cent this year.
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