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First visit to Brussels: Lindner insists on EU fiscal rules

First visit to Brussels
Lindner insists on EU fiscal rules

Should the EU loosen its debt policy permanently? For Federal Finance Minister Lindner, the answer is clear. It is necessary to build up “financial buffers” again, he says. In doing so, he contradicts his French colleague before his first appearance in Brussels as finance minister.

Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner has rejected calls for an easing of the EU debt policy. The Stability and Growth Pact has proven its flexibility during the crisis, said the FDP politician before the consultations of the finance ministers of the Eurogroup in Brussels. But now it is time to build up “financial buffers” again. “We want to look at the proposals of other states,” said Lindner. “However, the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact are also well known and reliable for the citizens.”

In an interview, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire described the strict guidelines for the debt of the member states, which had been suspended in the wake of the Corona crisis, as “outdated”. Lindner said in Brussels that he does not expect that “fundamental changes can realistically be expected” in the criteria for the deficit rules. But they are not necessary either, “because there are other measures that can be taken to combine fiscal stability with improved investment opportunities.”

For the German federal government, it is crucial “that we continue to observe the importance of the fiscal rules,” emphasized Lindner. “Fiscal rules are crucial to maintaining government credibility vis-à-vis capital markets.” They also make an important contribution to “maintaining monetary stability and allowing price developments to develop at a controlled rate in the interests of consumers and the economy as a whole”.

Lindner hopes for private capital

For the transformation in Europe, the federal government wants to mobilize private capital in particular, explained the FDP politician. “It’s not just about starting out of the crisis, an important concern of the German government is to develop momentum to strengthen the competitiveness of the European economy out of the crisis.”

For Lindner, the meetings of the finance ministers of the euro countries on Monday and those of all EU countries on Tuesday are his first appearances as federal finance minister on the European stage. However, he is not the only new minister, but just one of four new faces in the Eurogroup. There is also a new cast from the Netherlands, Austria and Luxembourg.

concern about inflation

In Brussels, the new Austrian Finance Minister Magnus Brunner called for a stricter fiscal policy after the end of the crisis. “We strongly advocate a return to sound fiscal policy,” he said. “Germany has always been a partner when it comes to stability,” he emphasized. The issue of inflation is particularly important for Austria, because many citizens are worried. “We have to take these concerns very seriously,” demanded Brunner. Price stability is “very important,” he said, also referring to monetary policy.

The new Dutch finance minister, Sigrid Kaag, was also concerned about the development of inflation. “The purchasing power of individual citizens will be affected,” she emphasized. In general, it is “a very important year” for the EU, because the right decisions have to be made. The new Luxembourg finance minister, Yuriko Backes, announced that she wanted to help find a compromise. The effects of the corona pandemic on the individual countries were very different, she pointed out. On Tuesday, Lindner also wants to present the work program of the German presidency to the seven leading industrialized countries (G7).

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