May 15, 2018 / 8:36 AM / 9 days ago

European sovereignty crucial for bloc's existence - Germany's Scholz

BERLIN, May 15 (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday it was a good sign that European Union countries remained united in a trade dispute with the United States and a diplomatic rift over keeping the nuclear deal with Iran alive.

“It’s about a European sovereignty that allows us to defend ourselves and exist,” Scholz told lawmakers in the Bundestag lower house of parliament, adding that he welcomed a similar push by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Turning to the European reform agenda, Scholz said the euro zone’s bailout scheme (ESM) could become the backstop for the bloc’s bank winding down fund.

Scholz also added that he was in favour of first developing the ESM into a European Monetary Fund and then incorporating it into European Union law, a difficult step which is likely to require EU treaty changes. (Reporting by Tom Körkemeier and Michael Nienaber Editing by Madeline Chambers)

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