BRUSSELS (Reuters) – German Finance Minister Peter Altmaier signaled little change from his hardline predecessor Wolfgang Schaeuble on Monday, saying he wants to focus on strengthening the euro zone and following fiscal rules.
Chancellor Angela Merkel named Altmaier as finance minister after the election in September that weakened her conservatives and cast doubt over whether she would extend her hand to French President Emmanuel Macron’s ambitious vision for Europe.
Schaeuble, who agreed to leave his post and become president of the lower house, was seen by some as an obstacle to far-reaching reforms in the euro zone, partly given his insistence on austerity and the need to stick to fiscal rules.
But Altmaier indicated he would not soften Germany’s stance.
“I will maintain the continuity of German politics and urge that we work together on the stability of the euro, and abide by the rules,” Altmaier told reporters before a meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Brussels.
Two days after the German election on Sept. 24, Macron set out his vision for Europe in an impassioned speech, calling for the European Union to work more closely on defense and immigration and the euro zone to have its own budget.