The 19 nations of the euro single currency zone should create a separate budget, financed by commonly-issued debt, to stabilize the currency and pay for needed structural reforms, Emmanuel Macron, the former French finance minister and independent candidate for president, said Tuesday.
During a visit to Berlin, Mr. Macron, a former Socialist Party member of François Hollande’s cabinet and a rising star on the French political scene, called for a special funding entity to be created for the currency, which has been wracked by economic crises in Greece, Spain, Italy and other parts of southern Europe.
After meeting with French expatriate voters living in Germany in a hotel at Berlin’s central Alexanderplatz square, Mr. Macron, a charismatic former investment banker at Rothschild said he would seek special status for the euro zone should he be elected as France’s next president in May.
“Today the euro zone has a problem, especially when I compare it to the U.S. and China,” Mr. Macron said to his supporters. “Its level of public and private investment is insufficient and it needs a real stimulus. It would be a huge mistake not to do this.”
“Today the euro zone has a problem, especially when I compare it to the U.S. and China. Its level of public and private investment is insufficient and it needs a real stimulus.”
The former economics minister said that to put the euro back on a stable, prosperous track, the currency zone needs money and investment from its members.
“The key is that the euro zone can decide on that stimulus,” he said. “And thus to have an investment policy that goes through common euro-zone debt for new projects and a euro-zone budget that is the basis for decision-making.”
Polls show that Mr. Macron is gaining favor among French voters ahead of two-stage elections that are set to begin in late April. The conservative nominee, former prime minister François Fillon, is leading among French voters ahead of Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s Front National party.
Mr. Macron, in one recent poll, was shown to have overtaken Ms. Le Pen, whose popularity has grown amid her hard line against immigration, globalization and the euro, which she promises to take France out of.
Mr. Macron said he had previously discussed creating a euro-zone budget when he was economics minister with his German counterpart, Sigmar Gabriel, who hopes to take Germany’s Social Democrats into the chancellery in federal elections set for the fall.
“I had managed to convince Sigmar Gabriel,” Mr. Macron said. “We had signed a text on this together.”
But the proposal never came to fruition in Germany, which opposes the issuance of common debt with other euro-zone countries, including France.
If a common financing structure is not created, Mr. Macron warned that euro-zone members would continue to get bogged down in never-ending debates and acrimony over fiscal reforms and adherence to euro-zone budget rules.