Before Europe launches common bonds or so-called eurobonds, it must first establish a real fiscal union, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in a newspaper interview Tuesday.
"The government has always said that before we start talking about joint debt management, we need real fiscal union," Schaeuble told the business daily Handelsblatt.
The topic of eurobonds -- pooling the debt of eurozone member states to drive down borrowing costs -- has split the 17-nation bloc and was the main sticking point at an informal EU summit last month.
Nevertheless, fiscal union was a "medium-term project," the finance minister insisted.
A first step was the fiscal pact, agreed to by 25 of 27 European Union members and which is designed to shore up the turmoil-hit eurozone by penalising countries that fail to keep their deficits in check.
A banking union, too, would be another stage.
"We should take one step after another," Schaeuble said.
The path Europe has to take "is not an easy one and it won't always be fair," he warned.