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France says Eurozone budget to be operational from 2021

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) delivers a speech during a press conference after bilateral talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on June 19, 2018, at the Meseberg Palace, northeastern Germany, before holding a ministerial conference to coordinate European reform proposals ahead of EU summit on June 28-29, 2018. (AFP photo)

French President Emmanuel Macron has said after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that a special budget mechanism will become operational for the eurozone area as of 2021.

Macron said after talks with Markel in Meseberg Palace, northeastern Germany, on Tuesday that he and the German chancellor had agreed on the principle that the eurozone should have its own budget in the coming years.

He said ministers will conclude until the end of the year the details of the mechanism, including whether it would be financed by national sources or a bloc-wide tax.

The budget is part of Macron’s proposals for reforms in the European Union. The scheme has faced criticism in some European countries, especially in Germany, where politicians and economists believe reforms could increase the burden on taxpayers in rich countries as they should pay for the shortcomings of other countries hit by financial troubles.

The far-right opposition party Alternative for Germany (AfD) filed a parliamentary motion earlier this month, urging Merkel to adopt a tougher line in dealing with proposed reforms in the eurozone to prevent the group from becoming a union with shared liabilities. Members of Merkel’s conservative alliance have also voiced concern about increased risk-sharing among eurozone members.

Critics of Macron’s reforms had hoped that EU members would block the proposals in a June 28-29 EU summit.

However, Macron said on Tuesday that an independent eurozone budget as well as a finance minister would be the key to ensure the stability of the single currency union and to weather economic shocks.

“The fundamental issue at stake is not a mechanism which will magically solve all our problems,” said Macron in a speech on the future of Europe, adding, “What is at stake is to reduce unemployment which affects one in five European youths.”

The French president insisted that the idea for an integrated eurozone budget was not about “mutualizing past debts” or about trying to “resolve the public finance problems of one state or another”.

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