Germany is secretly drawing up plans to step in and overhaul parts of France’s economy.
Berlin has instructed a powerful body of economic ‘wise men’ to produce a list of the changes it would impose on its neighbour.
The move fuelled fears that Berlin is making a covert power-grab to take control of the tax and spending decisions in weaker European Union economies.
Plans: Two officials from the German finance ministry said their minister had asked his advisers to draw up proposed reforms.
It came as the French central bank predicted the country would fall into recession before the end of the year in a massive blow to the eurozone’s second largest economy. Output is expected to shrink by 0.1 per cent in the final months of the year.
Two officials from the German finance ministry said their finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had asked his advisers, a council known as the ‘wise men’, to draw up proposed reforms.
One member of the council said the ‘lack of action’ by France’s socialist president, Francois Hollande, in making changes to the economy was to blame for the development.
Last night the German finance ministry said that although Mr Schaeuble had raised the prospect of a report on France with members of the council, the government had not submitted a formal request for the advisers to produce a reform document.
He refused to comment on ‘unofficial discussions’.