French finance minister hails "growth-oriented" German coalition
PARIS Dec 17 (Reuters) - French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici welcomed the formation of a growth-oriented governing coalition in Germany on Tuesday and said the previous administration had placed far too much emphasis on budgetary austerity in Europe.
Germany's Social Democrats have voted to join a "grand coalition" with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, clearing the way for a right-left government to take office on Tuesday.
"It's true that the previous administration was far too focused on austerity," Moscovici told France 2 television. "Now there is a Social Democratic partner ... I think we'll have a Germany that is more growth-oriented."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed with her coalition partners to push through a series of "growth friendly" reforms, including the introduction of a minimum wage - a move welcomed by France's Socialist government.
Merkel, who said she had fought off SPD demands for higher taxes to finance spending for infrastructure and education, is due to travel to Paris on Wednesday to meet President Francois Hollande. She will then go to Brussels for an EU summit at which leaders must clinch a deal on the bloc's banking union project.
Under pressure from Germany, Hollande has sought to bring down the budget deficit, largely through tax hikes, and pushed through a range of structural reforms including a freshly minted deal to overhaul the job training system.
But left-wing members of Hollande's government have been openly critical of Merkel, saying an exclusive focus on budget austerity to shore up public finances in Europe has fuelled the rise of far-right parties.
Voters in the European Union head to the polls next May for European parliamentary elections in which Eurosceptic parties are expected to make strong gains.
"The mandate of the next European parliament needs to be not one of austerity but of growth," Moscovici added.
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