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French minister urges more German investment in EU

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Berlin (AFP)

France's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Wednesday urged Germany to plough more investments into major European projects and allow wages to rise, as part of Berlin's contribution to boosting growth in Europe.

"France has taken on its European responsibilities, in reducing its public spending and reforming its economy. We expect Germany to join the movement, by adopting more offensive wage policies and investing more," he told Die Zeit weekly at a time when Chancellor Angela Merkel is battling to form a new coalition government.

Le Maire's call comes at a sensitive time for Merkel, as public spending is a hot-button issue in negotiations to forge a new alliance with the Social Democrats.

The centre-left SPD is demanding more public spending to help the disadvantaged, but Merkel's conservatives want to keep the country's budget balanced as they argue that they are saving for the ageing population's future.

"Germany has already taken decisions in the right direction -- minimum wage was introduced," said Le Maire, referring to a key condition by the SPD during negotiations for the outgoing coalition with Merkel.

"We are now expecting investments in big projects, in innovation, research and infrastructure," the French minister added.

Germany is expected to announce on Friday a budget surplus for 2017 that surpasses 10 billion euros ($12 billion), German media reported, putting pressure on Merkel for greater wealth redistribution in the country.

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