A review by the European Commission is looking into whether Germany’s international trade surplus is hampering Europe’s economic recovery.
Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said it wanted to see if Germany “could do more” to help rebalance the European economy.
The Commission is also scrutinising 15 other European countries for not meeting EU economic targets.
France, Italy and Hungary were also told to take “decisive policy action”.
An investigation led by the Commission will use new powers to look into the economic programmes of the 16 countries. It will run until May 2014.
Analysts have accused Germany, which has the EU’s biggest economy, of relying too much on exports and not doing enough to boost domestic demand.
Mr Barroso said: “This is not about the EU running economies in place of national governments.”
But he said the move was to ensure that “what is good for individual states is also good for the EU” and called for “bolder” cross-border policy-making for the economy.
Olli Rehn, EU economic and monetary commissioner, said: “Let’s be clear on this, we are not criticising Germany’s… success in global markets.”
He said data indicated Germans were “constantly investing a large part of their savings abroad”, which he said could be “deficient even from a German perspective”.
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The economy of the eurozone grew by just 0.1% in the July-to-September period, down from 0.3% growth in the previous quarter.
The weak growth levels being seen in the eurozone are among the reasons why the European Central Bank cut its main interest rate to 0.25% last week.
Earlier, figures showed that France’s economy shrank 0.1% in the third quarter of the year.
German growth slowed to 0.3% from 0.7% in the previous quarter.
Figures from Italy showed its economy shrank by 0.1%, after a 0.3% contraction in the second quarter.
When France’s economy grew by 0.5% in the second quarter of the year, it pulled the country out of recession, although economists had not expected that level of growth to be sustained.
Figures from the national statistics agency Insee showed that exports dropped by 1.5% in the third quarter, while business investment fell by 0.6%.
However, France’s Finance Minister, Pierre Moscovici, said he still believed the economy would grow by 0.1-0.2% over 2013 as a whole.
“The productive forces are starting up again, production is recovering,” Mr Moscovici told French radio.
“We knew the third quarter would mark a pause, it’s not a surprise, it’s not an indicator of decline, it’s not a recession.”
Germany’s statistics office Destatis also cited weak exports as a factor holding back growth.
“The positive impulses in the third quarter came exclusively from within Germany,” Destatis said.
“Private household and public spending were somewhat higher than in the preceding quarter. And investment in equipment and construction also increased compared with the second quarter.
“By contrast, the trade balance put a brake on GDP growth. While imports continued to rise, exports showed little momentum compared with the preceding quarter,” it said.
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