Theresa May: Brexit negotiations now “in the endgame”

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told German newspaper Handelsblatt that decisions on the reform of the Eurozone “have to be made within the coming weeks… we have discussed [these things] for a long time, now it is time to decide,” adding, “I hope that the German government will in the coming weeks give concrete answers to the proposals made by [French President] Emmanuel Macron.” Le Maire said that “the EU [Council] Summit in the middle of December is of special importance,” since “after that, the campaigns for the European elections begin, and everybody knows that election campaigns are not the best moment to take wide-reaching political decisions.”

On French plans for a Eurozone budget, he said, “The most important point for me … is that we agree its [the budget’s] tasks and instruments,” adding, “The size of the budget is secondary at the start. Once the budget has proven its efficiency, then I don’t have any doubt [that] it will grow in the years thereafter.”

Elsewhere, Le Maire told newspaper Les Échos that the December European Council Summit “is essential not only for Europe but also for the Franco-German relationship,” adding that without a European agreement on a digital tax on big companies, “There will be a mosaic of national taxes. Italy, Spain and the UK have just decided. A series of national taxes will weaken the internal market.” He also urged to protect and promote European technology, saying, “We must make Europe a peaceful empire, a power capable to rival with the US and China.”

Meanwhile, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz yesterday said that the EU should wait with the introduction of a European digital tax until 2021, to see whether ongoing negotiations at the OECD may deliver results prior to that. He said that Germany and France were “in principle in agreement” about this approach. Scholz also said that he aimed for the EU to agree the development of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) into a European Monetary Fund (EMF) before the end of this year.

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