Following is a transcript of an exclusive CNBC interview with Emmanuel Macron, French Economy Minister
Q1: The German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, thinks that the Greek negotiations won't be over soon. Is that also, your sentiment?
A1: I'm not part of the negotiators of this… this case. And I think that what I can say… first there is definitely a Franco-German… very strong cooperation on the Greek situation. Second, there is a strong willingness coming from the Chancellor and the President to find an agreement and stabilise the euro zone which is a very strong message, and I think key for the method (?). Third, I think their willingness to fix the situation and find pretty quick solution. Will this solution be completely definitive, I'm not in a situation to answer this question. But I think that we will find a solution, and the strong willingness of the two leaders... and more generally the majority of the euro zone leaders is definitely generally to find a solution, keep Greece in the Euro zone. And at the same time my feeling is that Mr. Tsipras is completely aware of his chance, and basically will have to take his responsibilities and propose some measures, basically, to meet this commitment.
Q2: We are approaching the deadline, do you think there is a serious risk of default?
A2: No, I don't think so. I think it's part of the discussions today, that given the current political situation, obviously a lot of people are concerned but I do think that… all the people around the table, will take their responsibilities.
Q3: Do you think it's time accept the idea of a two-speed Europe? Why do you think it would be a relevant idea?
A3: De facto, you have a multi-speed Europe. You look at the Schengen, you look at the euro zone, all this kind of cooperations, you have a multi-speed Europe. But my strong view is that in the current situation, when you have all this Grexit discussions, all this Brexit discussions, the key conclusion for me is you have a lot of people with a sort of interest, I mean, to dismantle Europe. Or people doubting about Europe. So what we need now, is first, stability. That's key and that's my answer to Greece. Second, reform. At the national level. That's what we're doing in France, that's what we will keep delivering. Third – investment and solidarity at the European level. The Juncker plan, and the other initiatives, we will have to take to basically reinforce investment. But fourth, we need a vision. And my point is that if there is a lack of vision, that's the chance you give to populist and those who want to dismantle Europe and Euro zone. So today, this vision is to first, we have basically to reform the EU. More simplicity. More solidarity (?) and an ambition for a single market, in energy, for instance. And on the other side, you need a more integrated euro zone. Which means that you have basically, in order to provide a very sustainable stability and growth for the zone create an equal, optimal monetary zone, which means you need a fiscal capacity you need proper governance… with more clear executive power. You need basically some accountability rules which means democratic checks and balances at the euro zone level, and definitely, you have to increase convergence in terms of taxes, in terms of social affairs and so on. That's our view of EU and euro zone. And that's one illustration of this multi-speed Europe.
Q4: But do you think the creation of some sort of low definition member status for the EU would help to keep the UK in the European Union?
A4: I don't think so. I mean, it depends on the UK proposal. Our view is that if they want more.. simplicity in a sense, in a certain way. And if they want reform to make the EU more adapted to the reality with less bureaucracy, more rapidity… I mean, that's a good proposal. Something we can accept. If their requirement is just to stop with Europe, or to decrease our ambitions, or to stop some initiatives on freedom of movement, or so on. Definitely it's not acceptable. But what we propose is not less Europe at 28. But more Europe for a few member states which are ready basically to progress which are ready basically to go further in terms of solidarity, in terms of common responsibility.
Q5: For the more integrated part of Europe, the euro zone, you are proposing single budget, common debts, converging tax policies. Are you confident that you would get enough support for it in Europe?
A5: We will take, I mean, tomorrow morning, a common initiative with Sigmar Gabriel on such a framework and I think that's a very important message to see two ministers, from France and Germany to propose the first set of ideas on that and for us that's the starting point. Our willingness is to convince all the colleagues, and push this ideas at the leaders level. We have to create the momentum and it's extremely important to me that first we propose, we propose a vision. And those who disagree will have to propose another vision. Because for years and years, according to me, we are waiting for something without naming anything. And a lot of people are saying we need a vision. But they just say what they don't want, they never propose something. We propose something – it's not less Europe, this is more Europe. We think it's feasible, and our view is that we will start basically pushing our two countries in this direction on the basis of the report, basically we received a few months ago, from a few economists, to create a convergence agenda between France and Germany.
Q6: But we know that tax convergence is extremely complicated to implement.
A6: Nothing is – I mean, do you think it was easy to create Euro? Do you think it was easy in the 80s to propose to create basically a common currency?
Q7: So you don't think it's impossible?
A7: I don't think it's impossible. I think – I'm sure that when you propose a vision, when you create a consensus around a vision. And this one, probably has to be modified and is discussed. But when basically you propose a vision, when you make it acceptable for people… you define milestone and a progression. But you have a goal. What we need is a common goal for more Europe.
Q8: What's your sentiment on the French economic recovery? Economists say it's basically driven by external factors such as the low price of oil and the euro dollar level. In other words, is it sustainable in the long term?
A8: Look, I think we have a slight recovery which is still very fragile in euro zone and especially in France. So it's a good starting point. At the same time, it's a good result of our policies especially in terms of competitiveness because we decreased our unit labour cost and our corporate margins are recovering. That's the first time after years and years, and even before crisis. I think that's a good starting point but during such a period of time, which is, I mean, the result of partly external effects and internal effects and I don't want to discuss about that because, I mean, that's an academic discussion… my purpose is just to first, strengthen this growth by accelerating our reforms, and our economic reforms. Second, strengthen investment and especially private investment which is key to reinforce this growth. And that's basically the purpose of our reform, the purpose of our economic policies which is to provide visibility to the players and to facilitate investment by creating basically more flexi security on the labour market, more flexibility on the products and goods market precisely to accelerate the change and investment decisions. And third, as you increase investment, you can modernise economy, you increase the quality of your products, you digitalise this economy. And you increase jobs. That's the purpose. So I think now we have an agenda, we're given the situation, we have to accelerate the reforms, and we have to accelerate private and public investments. That's the core of our economic policies.