Germany and France agree to work together on solution to eurozone crisis

Germany and France have moved to bury months of squabbling over how to resolve the euro crisis by agreeing to form a joint policymaking body to create a more integrated economic and fiscal policy in the eurozone and structure a new banking supervision regime, reports The Guardian.

The announcement of the accord in Berlin came as Germany’s leading business confidence index showed a greater than expected dip due to fears of the impact of the euro’s travails on German exports. It is the fourth month in a row that German business confidence has fallen.

The German and French finance ministers, Wolfgang Schäuble and Pierre Moscovici, said the aim of the new working group was to produce common policies on how to deal with Greece, Spain, and Italy as well as mapping out longer-term strategies. The Germans hope this will conclude in a full-scale political union within the eurozone.

“We want to take joint decisions,” said Schäuble, a Christian Democrat of the German chancellor Angela Merkel’s party. Moscovici, a French Socialist, said the countries needed to “deepen our consultations”.

The eurozone’s two biggest economies have been at odds since the election of François Hollande as French president in May. He has sought a policy shift geared to growth and jobs, while Berlin, dominating the EU response to the crisis for almost three years, has emphasised austerity, savage spending cuts, and debt reduction. Monday’s announcement was an acknowledgment that eurozone crisis management will be paralysed if the two biggest players remain at loggerheads.

The announcement came as the German headline Ifo index of business sentiment fell in August to its lowest level since March 2010, dropping to 102.3 from 103.3 in July. However, the current assessment component of the index dropped by less than expected, from 111.6 to 111.2.