France's Lagarde 'criticises German trade surplus'

LONDON: French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has said Germany's trade surpluses may be unsustainable for its neighbours in the eurozone, in an interview published Monday.

"(Could) those with surpluses do a little something? It takes two to tango," she told the Financial Times newspaper.

"Clearly Germany has done an awfully good job in the last 10 years or so, improving competitiveness, putting very high pressure on its labour costs," she said.

"I?m not sure it is a sustainable model for the long term and for the whole of the group. Clearly we need better convergence."

Lagarde also said a European monetary fund (EMF) to help eurozone nations in crisis -- an idea supported by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble -- was not a priority for the euro area.

The idea has been mooted in the wake of the Greek debt crisis.

She said the eurozone should first ensure Greece sticks to its promised austerity measures, then show "a bit of creativity and innovation" and use current European Union rules to strengthen budgetary discipline.

Her comments come as European finance ministers meet Monday to discuss helping debt-laden Greece.