Europe needs a joint finance minister and a euro zone budget to boost investment, according to Martin Schulz, the leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD). His party is expected to enter talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives on forming a coalition government.

“If we want Europe to remain strong in the long term, then we also must enable it to act and ensure people see a tangible difference in their lives,” Schulz told a business conference in Berlin.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Germany remains without a government after talks to form a three-way coalition between Merkel’s conservatives, the business-friendly FDP and the Greens collapsed mid-November.

Merkel has repeatedly said she wants to strengthen Franco-German cooperation and signalled her willingness to discuss Macron’s euro zone reform proposals.

During the exploratory talks for a three-way coalition, Merkel’s conservatives and the Greens agreed there was a need for a “fiscal capacity” to buffer extraordinary, unpredictable economic emergency situations which are beyond the control of individual member states. The FDP was against the creation of such a fiscal capacity.

Meanwhile, Schulz, who has previously been strongly opposed to another “grand coalition” with Merkel’s conservatives, said he ruled nothing out ahead of the preliminary talks.

“I cannot tell you what the outcome of these talks will be. I can ensure you only this: That I’ll campaign for the best solution for our country, that my party is aware of its overall responsibility for political stability,” Schulz said.

“It’s clear that we need reliability and stability. But it’s also clear that we need change,” Schulz said, repeating his call for more investments in schools and digital infrastructure. He also demanded more measures to ensure equal rights for women.