Sigmar Gabriel urged chancellor Angela Merkel to bow down to new French president Emmanuel Macron and give him “flexibility” on economics. He also encouraged Ms Merkel to support Mr Macron’s pledge of giving the euro its own fiscal budget, which will in turn provide more money to the European Union.
Speaking to German broadcasters yesterday, Mr Gabriel said: “We must stop confronting the French constantly with the raised index finger, blocking everything and letting them beg, so to speak, for every inch of flexibility in politics.”
He added: “The French president asks that the related costs should not be counted when calculating the country’s deficit – and he fails because of the resistance of the German finance minister. Things like this have to stop.”
As a member of the euro currency, France is subject to EU limits on debt and deficits. Earlier this year, the bloc scolded France for its improving but still excessive imbalances.
Mr Gabriel said it was time to give up “budget orthodoxy” based on spending restraint and that if France embarks on reforms, it “should not be forced into austerity.”
He said: “We must stop pretending as if we were the packhorse of the European Union. We’re the big winners in fiscal and economic terms, we’re the world’s exports champion because they all are buying our products.”
After projections declared Mr Macron as the winner of the French elections, Mr Gabriel took to Twitter and hailed his victory which will keep France “at the heart of Europe”.
He said: “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité! France chose that today. The great nation was, is, and remains in the middle and at the heart of Europe.”