BERLIN, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he was open to discussions of further integration of fiscal and budget policies within the European Union.
"The basic decision was for fiscal and budgetary policy to be decided on the national level," Schaeuble said, referring to the EU's policy of keeping national budget and tax decisions independent.
However, Schaeuble said, "If that is to be changed, then we can talk about it," the EUobserver reported Monday.
Germany, with Europe's largest economy, has long opposed further integration of fiscal policy.
"In 10 years we will have a structure that corresponds much stronger to what one describes as a political union," he said.
Schaeuble said recently that Germany would stand behind the euro, the currency shared by 16 nations that is losing strength due to debt issues in weaker EU economies.
Germany has been accused of exacerbating the problem by relying on strong exports, which put other countries at a trade disadvantage.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy Friday the debt crisis "is not just about currency issues but also about political cooperation, which has to deepen."