April 14, 2018 / 4:51 PM / 3 months ago

Not all Macron's EU reforms possible, German finance minister says

BERLIN, April 14 (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said EU reforms proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron should be addressed before European elections next year, but added that some of the proposals were not feasible.

Scholz told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper Germany would work closely with France over the coming months to assess which reforms should be advanced.

France has been pressing Germany and other European countries to stop holding up tough decisions about the euro zone’s banking and capital market regulations.

“We will examine what is possible without overloading the ability of individual members to act,” Scholz, a Social Democrat, said in the interview, to be published on Sunday.

Scholz’s comments come days before Macron is due to visit Berlin to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Scholz said it was clear that Germany would have to increase its funding of the European Union after Britain leaves the bloc.

But he said Germany would not cover the resulting financial gap on its own, echoing comments by his predecessor, conservative hardliner Wolfgang Schaeuble.

“A German finance minister stays a German finance minister. And I will put on my most miserly face,” he said.

Regarding reforms proposed by Macron, he said Germany wanted to expand the European Stability Mechanism into a monetary union while also ensuring continued parliamentary control.

He said there were “hard nuts to crack” with regard to a proposed banking union, including the high level of non-performing loans in some countries.

“An unfair situation should not arise in which some members provide the necessary funds to secure deposits, while others do not meet the needed requirements,” he said.

Asked about Macron’s proposal for a European budget and a European finance minister, Scholz said: “These ideas are bringing new momentum into the European project that we need. But the French president also knows that not all of his ideas can be realised.” (Reporting by Andrea Shalal Editing by Helen Popper)

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