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France calls for more German ambition on the euro zone

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(Reuters) - called on Friday for more ambition from in reforming the euro zone, saying faced a "now or never" moment with rising external threats from the and

French Bruno Le Maire, speaking in German to a business conference in Berlin, offered the first official response from to reform proposals sketched out by in a weekend newspaper interview.

He welcomed her support for the idea of a euro zone investment budget, one of French Emmanuel Macron's key demands, but said and had "a way to go" to reach a common position that was truly ambitious.

"Our future is at stake. We must act, it is now or never," Le Maire added. He received warm applause from the crowd of executives after declaring: "is back".

Alongside his domestic reform push, Macron has sketched out a far-reaching vision for in a series of speeches over the past year. But until Sunday, Merkel had not offered a detailed response.

She has now backed Macron's idea for a euro zone budget, but made clear that it should be limited in size to the "low double-digit billions of euros", far smaller than what Macron has been seeking.

Merkel has also voiced support for a strengthening of the euro zone's ESM bailout mechanism, but her suggestions that it could assume economic surveillance responsibilities from the Commission and oversee debt restructurings are unlikely to be welcomed in

"STEP BY STEP"

French officials have told in recent days that while the size of the euro zone budget is important, their main goal is to agree a framework with Le Maire explained that a budget should have two main aims: to foster economic convergence and to help states hit by economic shocks.

"This budget must have its own resources. Its size can be increased step by step," Le Maire said.

France and Germany have promised to present a joint reform proposal at a summit on June 27-28. Le Maire will meet with his German counterpart in on Saturday in an attempt to narrow the differences.

In his speech, Le Maire touched on the external challenges facing Europe, singling out for buying up European technology and U.S. for threatening with trade tariffs.

"We can't allow and the to determine the fate of the world," he said.

(Reporting by Barkin; Editing by and Gareth Jones)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, June 08 2018. 19:59 IST
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