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Franco-German Consensus on More European Integration in Defence and Immigration Policy

French and German members of parliament (MPs) are both open to granting more competencies to the EU in the fields of defence and immigration policy. There is, however, considerable disagreement on certain reform proposals for the eurozone. While the French politicians support the adoption of a joint liability scheme in form of Eurobonds and a common European Monetary Union unemployment insurance (EMU-UI), German representatives are opposing these proposals. MPs from both countries agree, however, that higher investments by Member States may serve as an instrument to spur growth in the eurozone. These are the findings of a study by the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), which will be presented in Brussels today.

In collaboration with École Polytechnique in Paris and the University of Mannheim, ZEW surveyed members of the German Bundestag as well as members of the French Assemblée Nationale and the Sénat. A total of 232 MPs from both countries participated in the survey conducted between April and July 2016. According to the survey, French MPs are in general more open towards shifting competencies to Brussels than their German colleagues. In particular in the fields of taxation, wage policy and labour market regulation, German MPs are more reluctant to grant more competencies to the EU than their French counterparts.

When asked about reform proposals for the eurozone, German and French MPs adopted different positions. There is, for instance, disagreement between MPs from both countries regarding policy proposals, which are intended to increase fiscal integration such as Eurobonds or a common EMU-UI, with the majority of French MPs advocating such a policy and German MPs opposing it. “Given the unfavourable conditions in the French labour market as well as France’s fragile fiscal situation, French MPs may perceive the possible net benefits of adopting solidarity measures,” says Professor Friedrich Heinemann, co-author of the study and head of the ZEW Research Department “Corporate Taxation and Public Finance”.

When it comes to the assessment of the European Central Bank's (ECB) current monetary policy, views are polarised between Paris and Berlin: Whilst the ECB’s asset purchase programmes enjoy strong backing from French MPs, many members from the Bundestag voiced scepticism about these transactions. The survey revealed a Franco-German divide even within party families, particularly when asked about controversial issues. For instance, members of the German conservative party were strictly against the introduction of Eurobonds. Among the French conservative party members, by contrast, the result was less unanimous. However, further Franco-German consensus was established as MPs from both countries agreed on the potential of higher national investments as a remedy for low growth.

All in all, the survey provides a clear indication of both the potentials and limits of new Franco-German reform initiatives in a post-Brexit EU. “A common will of the Members States arose at Bratislava summit in the fields of defence, immigration, and investment plan. The current French-German consensus on these topics opens up new horizons for the European project,” concludes Pierre Boyer, Professor at École Polytechnique and co-author of the survey.

The complete survey can be downloaded here.

ABOUT ÉCOLE POLYTECHNIQUE / École Polytechnique, also known as L’X, is the leading French institution combining top-level research, academics, and innovation at the cutting-edge of science and technology. Its various undergraduate and graduate-level programs – Bachelor of Science, Ingénieur Polytechnicien (Master’s level program), Master’s, and PhD – are highly selective and promote a culture of excellence with a strong emphasis on science, anchored in humanist traditions. As a widely internationalized university, École Polytechnique offers a variety of international programs and attracts a growing number of foreign students and researchers from around the globe (currently 36% of students and 39% of faculty members).

École Polytechnique offers an exceptional education to prepare bright men and women to excel in top-level key positions and lead complex and innovative projects which meet the challenges of 21st century society, all while maintaining a keen sense of their civil and social responsibilities. With its 22 laboratories, 21 of which are joint research units with the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), the École Polytechnique Research Center explores the frontiers of interdisciplinary knowledge to provide major contributions to science, technology, and society. École Polytechnique is also a pioneer and leading institution of the major scientific and economic cluster, Paris-Saclay, bringing together top French higher education and research institutions, as well as R&D centers of prominent international companies.


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