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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Germany, France Plan EU Initiatives

STUTTGART, Germany -- Germany and France plan a joint initiative for the European Union to help create common EU defense policies and allow more majority voting in Brussels, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said Tuesday.

Kinkel said he and France's Herve de Charette would agree later Tuesday on details of the proposals to be made to the EU's Maastricht review conference opening next month.

Kinkel reaffirmed Germany's support for the EU's planned single currency and said criticism of the plan expressed by opposition Social Democrats in a state election campaign amounted to "playing with fire." He stressed the importance of close ties between Europe and the United States and said EU integration "must not make the Atlantic any wider."

Kinkel and de Charette were to meet later in Freiburg, in southwestern Germany, to put the final touches to their initiative for the inter-governmental conference opening in Turin on March 29.

Kinkel said Germany and France wanted to create a planning staff for a common foreign and security policy "so we no longer have 15 different diagnoses at the beginning of every crisis."

He added: "I have nothing against naming a secretary general for the common foreign and security policy, but the political responsibility for decision must stay where it belongs -- with the council of foreign ministers."

Kinkel said the former Yugoslavia had shown the need for the EU to have a military option to back up its peacekeeping efforts.

"There must be clear progress in 1996 in integrating the Western European Union into the European Union, for example European Council responsibility for the WEU," he said.

Bonn and Paris want the WEU, a defense pact that groups most EU states, to be turned into the EU's military arm, but Britain opposes this.

Kinkel said Bonn and Paris backed majority voting in Brussels, meaning that most EU decisions would no longer be taken by the unanimous vote that critics say hamstrings the EU.

They also supported plans for multi-speed integration that would allow some members to move ahead to deeper cooperation even if others did not want to take part.