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Merkel’s challenger open to joint eurozone budget

Germany's Social Democratic Party, SPD, chairman and top candidate in the upcoming general election Martin Schulz, center, briefs the media during a news conference at the party's headquarters in Berlin, Monday, May 8, 2017. The SPD lost yesterday's state election in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. The people in background from left are party's board members Udo Bullmann, Thorsten Schaefer-Guembel and Manuela Schwesig. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s challenger in Germany’s September election is giving a cautious welcome to French President-elect Emmanuel Macron’s calls for a joint eurozone budget, but is suggesting it’s unlikely to happen.

Martin Schulz, the center-left Social Democrats’ leader, was quoted Wednesday as telling weekly Die Zeit that “if the eurogroup states are to tackle joint tasks, then joint budget financing would make sense.”

But he added that “such a eurozone budget ultimately would not fail because of Germany or France, but because of opposition from those states that have other interests.” Schulz said he’s a realist and “we must start with what’s possible without treaty changes.”

Schulz’s party has argued for concessions on matters like austerity to help Macron but Merkel has argued that “German support can’t replace French policy.”

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