French and German economy and finance ministers search for a new impetus to euro zone growth as they meet in Berlin. But with one country under pressure for wanting to spend too much and the other for not wanting to spend enough, investors wonder whether there really is any common ground. Ciara Lee reports.
They're the two biggest economies in the euro zone - but their views are like chalk and cheese. In a bid to convince Germany to help boost growth and competitiveness, France's economy and finance ministers visit their peers in Berlin. French Finance Minister Michel Sapin. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER, MICHEL SAPIN, SAYING: "We dedicated our meeting to the subject for which we met today, boosting investments in both our countries. But obviously each government needs to decide for itself how to go about it." Both countries are under pressure. Germany is facing criticism for failing to spend more and support the faltering euro zone economy It's unwilling to compromise balancing its budget next year. German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN ECONOMY MINISTER, SIGMAR GABRIEL, SAYING: "We only have a chance in Europe if the necessary structural reforms and the changes we are seeing in Europe are accompanied by European growth." France needs to secure EU backing for its 2015 budget, which flouts its deficit-cutting commitments. Its failure to comply with the very budget rules it helped create is causing a rift in the bloc. Baader Bank's Robert Halver. (SOUNDBITE) (German) HEAD OF CAPITAL MARKET ANALYSIS AT BAADER BANK, ROBERT HALVER, SAYING: "France has big problems. France is key to the continued existence of the euro zone, but France can solve its problems through reforms. Reform is the magic word. Reforms must be carried out like those implemented by Germany ten years ago The European Commission is due to decide by the end of this month whether to reject its 2015 budget. Its outgoing president Jose Manuel Barroso says the euro zone will not sink back into recession, but uncertainty is rattling investors. The state of the the French and German economies may be bothering the markets, but so too is a lack of direction from ECB chief Mario Draghi. ETX Capital's Joe Rundle. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ETX CAPITAL, HEAD OF TRADING, JOE RUNDLE, SAYING: "He is a master of playing the markets well with speech and no actions. We saw it with the OMT program; we are seeing it with some form of QE. He is incredibly clever at manipulating and tricking the markets into believing the ECB is there for action and he maintains his credibility." But the ECB has had a productive start to the week. It began buying covered bonds in the secondary market, launching its highly-anticipated third covered bond purchase programme.