PARIS (Reuters) - The leaders of France and Germany met for high-pressure talks on Tuesday to discuss what further measures they can take to shore up investor confidence in the euro zone following a dramatic market sell-off last week.
Following are key quotes from a joint news conference held by President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Watch the news conference live: link.reuters.com/nec33s.
“We have exactly the same position on euro bonds ... Euro bonds can be imagined one day, but at the end of the European integration process not at the beginning.”
“The French and German finance ministers will table a joint proposal at the EU level next September for a tax on financial transactions. This is a priority for us.”
“The question is what is right now for overcoming the current phase of the crisis. Over and over again, I feel that people are looking for the one event, the one method which will solve everything and lift us out of the crisis, and in this context people often say that the last resort is euro bonds.
“I neither think that Europe is at the point of needing its last resort, nor do I think that we can solve these problems with what I have called a bang. And therefore I think that what we are proposing here is the means with which we can solve the crisis right now and win back trust, step by step ... I do not think euro bonds will help us in this.”
“We would like the 17 members of the euro zone to adopt a golden rule before the summer of 2012 or during the summer of 2012, writing into their constitutions a rule that budget bills must set an target for returning to balance. It’s a rule that makes good sense that leads to a reduction in deficits and debt.
“The euro has allowed us a lot of economic progress but the euro is not just a right, it’s a set of rules, a duty, discipline. Consequently if the rule is to be adopted by the 17 (euro zone members), it will not be an optional rule but rather obligatory.”
“In recent months we created a fund of 500 billion euros. These are absolutely considerable figures, and they haven’t been used up — far from it. Still some say that we should double it. And I don’t know why some people aren’t prosposing to triple it. And if we tripled it, at the next press conference we would be asked why we didn’t quadruple it. We are trying to manage it seriously and reasonably. These are considerable sums.
“Secondly, also for improving the culture of stability, we want a self commitment of our parliaments. If the Commission makes critical comments on a national budget that it has been presented with, then the euro states i.e. their parliaments must commit themselves to not simply take note of these critical comments and then put them aside but rather to act upon them.”
“We want an adjustment of the structural fund in order to strength competitiveness and growth...
“For member states which show weaknesses in their implementation of the Growth and Stability pact, we propose that the Commission gets a stronger right to say in the matter, and the case may be with some crisis countries that it also gets to directly intervene to some extent to make sure the funds are being used to accelerate competitiveness and growth.”
“When we say we want to defend the euro that implies also that we will undertake the necessary measures. I do not today foresee further treaty changes but I will not say that in my lifetime there will never be any other changes.”
“Our proposals are designed to win and secure the trust of the markets with action.
“We believe that euro zone member states must, with a higher commitment, ensure that the core of this stability and growth pact will be strictly adhered to.”
“Germany and France feel absolutely obliged to strengthen the euro as our common currency and further develop it. And it is entirely clear that for this to happen, we need a stronger interplay of financial and economic policy in the euro zone.”
“Like the Chancellor, we consider that the governments of these two countries have recently taken extremely useful decisions for the credibility of the euro zone.”
“We asked our ministers of finance and the economy to prepare proposals which will be put to us at the beginning of 2012 so that from the beginning of 2013... we could have a common tax on companies in terms of the tax base as well as in its rate for German companies and French companies.
“At the start of each European semester the economy ministers of France and Germany will exchange information so that the economic scenarios in the framework of the presentation of our respective budgets are the same.”
“We want to express our absolute will to defend the euro and assume Germany and France’s particular responsibilities in Europe and to have on all of these subjects a complete unity of views.”
“The first of these propositions is to create a real economic government for the euro zone. This economic government will be made up of ... heads of state and government that will meet twice a year, and more if necessary. It will elect a stable president for two and half years... We propose that if he is a candidate that this stable president is Herman Van Rompuy.”