BERLIN—Germany and France have tapped an economist from each country for advice on countering the threat of prolonged economic stagnation in Europe, in a bid to help bridge a rift between the two governments over how to revive growth.
The two countries’ economics ministers recently solicited help from French economist Jean Pisani-Ferry and Henrik Enderlein, both lecturers at the Berlin-based Hertie School of Governance, in separate letters seen by The Wall Street Journal.
Warning that Europe risks a “lost decade” of low growth, excessively low inflation, high debt and high unemployment, the ministers asked the economists to identify Franco-German initiatives to boost growth in Europe and to recommend measures both countries should implement by 2017 to modernize and strengthen their economies.
Germany is facing mounting calls from eurozone leaders, chiefly in France and Italy—along with the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank— to encourage more investment and consumption at home to help pull the currency bloc out of its current stagnation. Paris and Rome, meanwhile, have also asked for dispensation from Europe’s tough fiscal rules as they struggle to reduce their budget deficits. Berlin has rejected the calls to boost government spending, however, and is sticking to plans to deliver a balanced federal budget next year despite signs that growth has slowed markedly in Germany over recent months. German officials also have rejected the French and Italian calls for fiscal leeway and insist Paris and Rome should focus on liberalizing their economies and cutting public spending.