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.