Vienna, 29.07.2017 Joint communiqué from the Austrian Minister of Finance, Mr. Hans Jörg Schelling, and the French Minister for Economy and Finance, Mr. Bruno le Maire 

The Austrian Minister of Finance, Mr. Hans Jörg Schelling, and the French Minister for the Economy and Finance, Mr. Bruno Le Maire, met in Vienna today to discuss issues of common interest, focusing on the future of the European Union and of the Euro Area.

The European Union is currently facing huge challenges. At the same time there is a window of opportunity to strengthen both the EU and the Euro Area. In such a context, Bruno Le Maire stressed the priority for France to intensively “work on the much-needed deeper integration of the Economic and Monetary Union”. Hans Jörg Schelling agreed that the integration of the Economic and Monetary Union is crucial for the success of Europe.

Both Ministers discussed the causes of the crisis and the weaknesses of the current Euro Area structure and governance. They both share the view that improvement is of the utmost importance and should be discussed in a constructive and inclusive manner. Mr. Le Maire and Mr. Schelling affirmed that Europe needs to act as one to hold its ground in the global competition. In this context Hans Jörg Schelling pointed out that “it would need a much more focused discussion about strategy”, since he is convinced that a constructive discussion of further steps regarding the structure of the EMU would be more effective only after.

Furthermore Minister Schelling addressed the priorities for the Austrian EU Council Presidency during the second half of the next year (2018). Minister Schelling wants to put a special focus on European and international measures to prevent profit shifting and international tax fraud. “In recent years Austria has already implemented numerous measures on the national level. In this regard we have always been pioneers. But to tackle tax avoidance and tax fraud more effective, we need solutions on a European and International level”, Mr. Schelling is convinced. Thus Minister Schelling has come forward with a plan to eliminate opportunities for tax avoidance and evasion, which he already had the opportunity to discuss with Commissioner Moscovici two weeks ago.

The meeting was also an opportunity for both ministers to highlight the friendship and the density of the bilateral economic relationship between their two countries. Indeed, according to the 2016 figures, with 331 French companies in Austria employing 16 117 people and 190 Austrian companies in France employing 8 000 employees, cross investments are particularly remarkable.