French Finance Minister Pierre Beregovoy said Thursday there is a convergence of views between France and West Germany on the need to maintain exchange rate stability within the European Monetary System.
But while the two countries may agree on common goals, there is considerable progress to be made before they reach those goals, he told reporters at his weekly press conference here.Hinting at his dissatisfaction with the degree of cooperation on monetary policy, Mr. Beregovoy said, There is a responsibility for common management.
He said he had an opportunity to discuss these issues with Bundesbank President Karl Otto Poehl during a brief lunch meeting here Wednesday. Mr. Poehl was in town for talks with Bank of France Governor Jacques de Larosiere, Mr. Beregovoy said.
Today, Mr. Beregovoy and Mr. de Larosiere will travel to Frankfurt for talks with Mr. Poehland West German Finance Minister Gerhard Stoltenberg in a quarterly meeting of the Franco-German Economic Council, which was initiated in January of this year. Recent strains within the EMS are expected to top the agenda, and could spill over as well into next week's meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Berlin.
Despite Mr. Beregovoy's sanguine tone Thursday, there are serious differences between the two countries, particularly on the issue of interest rates. French officials have privately complained that the Bundesbank did not consult them on a series of recent interest rate hikes.
The most recent hike, last month, left the Bank of France no choice but to raise its rates to defend the French franc. This forced Mr. Beregovoy, at least temporarily, to retreat from his policy of lowering interest rates, and did not make French officials happy.
Analysts here said the talks between the French and West Germans in Frankfurt today, and perhaps privately in Berlin next week, are likely to be tough and not particularly cordial.