Hollande, Merkel call for full-time eurozone boss

Associated Press
French President Francois Hollande, left, arrives with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at their press conference after a meeting at the Elysee Palace, Paris, Thursday May 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
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French President Francois Hollande, left, arrives with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at their press …

PARIS (AP) — France and Germany are pushing to have a full-time official lead the economic and financial policies of the 17-country euro currency bloc.

Currently, the policies are agreed on during regular meetings of the eurozone's finance ministers — collectively known as the Eurogroup. One of the 17 ministers is appointed to be the Eurogroup president — Dutchman Jeroen Dijsselbloem has the job now.

But as the financial crisis tore through the eurozone over the past years, the job became more important and time-consuming.

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after a meeting in Paris that there needs to be a central figure to lead the Eurogroup.

Speaking Thursday at a joint press conference, Hollande said he and Merkel "are in agreement that there should be more eurozone summits, with a full-time Eurogroup president with strengthened powers."

"We need more economic policy coordination, especially in the Eurogroup," Merkel said.

The Eurogroup is one of several institutions that help determine public policy in the European Union, the wider 27-country bloc that includes 10 countries that do not use the euro.

The European Commission is the EU's executive arm, a bureaucracy based in Brussels that designs and proposes laws. The European Council is the gathering of EU heads of state and government.

Meanwhile, Hollande admitted that France needs to complete structural economic reforms to put it back on the path of growth, a day after the European Commission urged France to cut red tape, implement pension and labor market reforms, and strengthen competition in the services and energy sectors.

"Reforms have to be done ... All these reforms, the details, the procedures, the way to implement them, are up to the government," he said.

French president had initially been critical of the European Commission's recommendations.

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