French PM Ayrault summoned to explain French economic policy on German visit
The German govenrment was awaiting Jean-Marc Ayrault's visit to Berlin Thursday with “curiosity”, according to German government officials. Under fire for the alleged inadequacy of the French government’s economic policy, the prime minister pointed out that Germany will soon face budget problems thanks to its ageing population.
Seizing on a rare sign of improvement in the French economy, Ayrault on Thursday described news of 0.2 per cent GDP third-quarter growth as a “promising indicator”, adding that the government’s decisions on competitiveness, jobs and growth were “all the more necessary” for the country.
The French prime minister was to be welcomed by German President Joachim Gauck on Thursday morning before meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel in the afternoon.
He will be received “with curiosity”, German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said on Wednesday, adding that he will “be able to explain to us the measures that the French government envisages to become more competitive”.
German media have been dubbed France the “sick man of Europe” in recent days and German politicians have cast doubt on the Socialist government’s ability to tackle the crisis.
Ayrault hit back in an interview with the Suddeutsche Zeitung paper published as he arrived in Berlin.
Calling for more “understanding”, he pointed out to Germans inclined to grumble about the eurozone crisis, that their economy has benefitted from exports to the rest of the European Union.
And, he added, “the German population is ageing faster than the French population and that leads to problems for the pensions and social security systems”.
The two-day visit is Ayrault's first to Germany as prime minister, although the former German teacher is well acquainted with the country.
President François Hollande has travelled to Berlin to meet Merkel twice since taking office.