France and Germany’s economic, trade, industrial and financial interdependence is especially strong. This can be seen first on the trade front: France is Germany’s leading economic partner with €113.2 billion of trade (exports plus imports). France is Germany’s leading customer and third-largest supplier. This integration is also seen at the investment level: there are 2,200 French companies in Germany, providing 400,000 jobs. In France, the number of German companies is estimated at nearly 3,100, with a workforce of 300,000. In 2009, Germany was the leading source country for job-creating investment in France. Many industrial partnerships have been forged between our two countries, with EADS and its subsidiary, Airbus, among the foremost.
The crisis we have gone through in Europe showed that Europe’s stability depends on the Franco-German tandem. On their own, our two countries account for 49% of Euro Area GDP. So our growth is essential for Europe’s dynamism.
We are both particularly conscious of our responsibilities. There can be no differences between France and Germany. Together, we must make joint proposals for strengthening Europe’s economic government and the cohesion of the Economic and Monetary Union. We must start by applying these recommendations to ourselves. So it is essential for us together to implement both the structural reforms and competitiveness policies necessary to get back to a high level of growth and the policies to restore our public finances to a sound footing which are essential for sustainable growth.
Now that there is growing integration of our economies and production factors are increasingly mobile, we have to think about the differences between and convergence of our tax systems.
Germany and France have similar levels of compulsory levies, respectively, 39.5% and 42.8% of GDP in 2008. But these global figures mask different realities.
Yet convergence between our tax systems is an essential element of our economic integration and the deepening of the internal market in Europe.
I propose that a detailed comparison be made of the French and German tax systems – which will be entrusted to the Cour des Comptes [Auditor General’s Department or Audit Court] and an equivalent body in Germany – so that our governments are together in a position to take decisions to move towards the necessary convergence of both corporate and personal taxes./.