May 9, 2017 / 5:33 PM / in 2 years

Germany's Schaeuble says will support Macron to strengthen EU

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will do what it can to help French President-elect Emmanuel Macron strengthen the European Union and its monetary union, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Tuesday.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble presents draft budget for 2018 and mid-term plans for state spending until 2021 during a news conference in Berlin, Germany, March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

But Schaeuble also cautioned that some of Macron’s proposals, including for a European finance minister, would require changes to the EU treaties that he did not consider realistic at the moment.

“We will do all we can to support Macron on the path to strengthen Europe and the European monetary union,” Schaeuble told a meeting of his conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

But he added: “Everyone who knows Europe recognises that it’s pretty unrealistic to think about treaty changes in Europe at the moment ... The French aren’t keen for that either.”

Germany had no fundamental political issues with Macron, a former investment banker who ran as an independent, but he said many of the measures that Macron had proposed would need to be decided in France, Schaeuble said.

He said he was convinced Macron believed in a strong Europe, noting that it would take increased investments and competitiveness to help strengthen the union.

Schaeuble also said he expected a change in the current ultra-loose monetary policy of the European Central Bank.

“Interest rates will begin to normalise soon. You can assume that based on the recent remarks of the ECB,” he said without elaborating.

Schaeuble further said he has been pushing for a careful shift in the ECB’s monetary policy, warning that otherwise Europe could face growing dangers to economic stability.

The conservative minister also reiterated his support for continuation of a sustainable, stability-oriented and solid German financial policy without new government debts.

Reporting by Gernot Heller,; Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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