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Germany and France agree joint plan

Germany and France plan to work together on proposals on how to improve economic co-ordination in the European Union this spring as the continent struggles to overcome its debt crisis and generate growth.

German chancellor Angela Merkel said after meeting French president Francois Hollande the two countries were "aware of our great responsibility" to end the crisis and make growth possible. She said both were convinced competitiveness was hugely significant.

The two countries plan to come up with proposals by May.

Germany and France are marking 50 years of an accord that enshrined the two former adversaries' post-Second World War reconciliation with a joint cabinet meeting and a joint session of their parliaments.

The 1963 Elysee Treaty marked a milestone for the two former foes.

The pair have often been openly at odds over how to resolve Europe's debt crisis since Mr Hollande took office last year. He has criticised Germany's austerity-led approach, while Mrs Merkel has resisted talk of pooling countries' debt.

That has raised questions about the now-traditional role of Germany and France as the motor of political integration in Europe.

The two countries will produce joint proposals by May, ahead of an EU summit the following month, on how to improve economic co-ordination and competitiveness.

"We have to give Europe confidence in its future," Mr Hollande said."We will try to be as concrete as possible ... so that growth can be reinforced and stability guaranteed."


From Belfast Telegraph