After breakdown in recent weeks, the Franco-German motor is up and running again. This is what Europe’s key partnership sought to put across, all smiles, on 31 March in Berlin after a German cabinet meeting. Finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble had invited his French opposite number, Christine Lagarde, to sit in, which was a first. On that occasion, notes the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) Lagarde said her recent criticisms of German exports were actually a "compliment" to German competitiveness. "The Franco-German reconciliation was played out around a tax on banks that Berlin wants to impose at European and international level, with Paris’ backing", reports Le Figaro. The NZZ explains that Germany is planning to create a special fund fed by a mandatory charge on each bank based on its systemic risk – i.e. the impact its failure would have on the national economy. Berlin estimates it could clear €1.2 billion p.a. this way.