Missing in much of the talk about French President Emmanuel Macron’s grand vision to remake the eurozone is the simple, yet fundamental, question of what Berlin would demand in return.
Those infatuated with Macron’s ideas for a eurozone finance minister equipped with a budget are confident that at least some of his blueprint will become reality after German elections in September.
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s opening ask looks to be a big one: control of the European Central Bank.
Merkel, who is likely to be reelected chancellor, has offered a vague endorsement of Macron’s initiative but has yet to publicly spell out her terms. Behind the scenes, however, the haggling is well underway, and the ECB job is at the top of Berlin’s wish list.
Whatever shape a eurozone budget might take, Germany will be the main source of funding for the simple reason that it’s the country that can most afford to do so in the single-currency bloc.
That dynamic gives Berlin broad power to make demands.
Germany’s position will be even stronger if it agrees to a eurozone finance minister under French control. France’s European commissioner, Pierre Moscovici, is already lobbying for the role.