Europe News

Dutch finance chief opposes latest Franco-German push to bolster euro area

Key Points
  • Dutch finance minister Wopke Hoekstra told reporters that he is against the idea of a common euro zone budget — an important proposal for French President Emmanuel Macron.
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French President Emmanuel Macron overcame a key hurdle in his plan to reform the euro area earlier this week, but there are more obstacles in the way, including the Netherlands.

Macron had managed to get German Chancellor Angela Merkel on board to create a common budget to help reduce the economic divergences across the euro area — an agreement that's been dubbed "historic" by some analysts, given the traditional opposition in Berlin to any increase in funding to the European Union.

However, the Dutch finance minister, Wopke Hoekstra, told reporters Thursday that he is against the idea of a common euro zone budget.

"The question truly is what is the problem we would solve with (a euro zone budget)," he said. "That's unclear to us and we are not in favor."

Earlier this week, France and Germany presented a proposal on how to reform the euro area. This included the creation of a euro zone budget in 2021 that would be funded by tax resources with the aim to make the entire euro area more competitive.

While welcoming the joint commitment from France and Germany to develop the euro area, Hoekstra said the Netherlands had its own proposals, which weren't made public.

Commenting on the France-Germany paper, he said: "It is a mixed bag with things we like and other items where we aren't sure what kind of problem we are solving with this solution."

Euro zone finance ministers are meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday to discuss reform. The aim is to come up with concrete proposals that European leaders will be able to approve next week at a summit in Brussels.