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Emmanuel Macron (L) meets Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany, May 15.
Emmanuel Macron (L) meets Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany, May 15.

Macron, Merkel Agree on Roadmap for European Union Reforms

Macron, Merkel Agree on Roadmap for European Union Reforms

France’s new President Emmanuel Macron secured backing on Monday from key ally German Chancellor Angela Merkel for his bid to shake up the European Union, despite skepticism in Berlin over his proposed reforms.
Travelling to the German capital to meet the veteran leader in his first official trip abroad, Macron used the opportunity to call for a “historic reconstruction” of Europe, the German news website Local.de reported.
While Merkel and Macron did not decide on any specific measures, they agreed to stick to a “roadmap” of talks and negotiations.
“We can give the entire [European] construct a new dynamic,” Merkel said, adding Europe could only progress with a “strong France” within.
During his campaign, Macron had thrown up ideas on reforming the eurozone, noting that the currency bloc cannot go on as it is, if it wanted to avoid falling prey to protest and populism.
Among reforms he wants to see are setting up a separate budget for the 28-member group, as well as giving it its own parliament and finance minister.
But the proposals have sent alarm bells ringing in Berlin and initial relief about his victory against far-right leader Marine Le Pen had quickly given way to fears about his reform plans.
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble warned that such deep-reaching reforms would require treaty changes, which were “not realistic” at a time when Europe is hit by a surge of anti-euro populism.
Germany and France are the eurozone’s two biggest economies.
Merkel’s approach underlined her view that it was crucial not only for France, but for Germany, to help Macron succeed—a point that she has repeatedly stressed.
Yet it remains to be seen if her approach would go down well in Germany, which is deeply averse to shouldering burdens of eurozone laggards.
Macron sought to bat away German fears on debt, saying he was opposed to metalizing “old debt” between eurozone countries.
However, he signaled readiness to look at sharing future burdens.
“I am not a promoter of metalizing of old debt” within the eurozone, said Macron after meeting Merkel, adding however that the joint financing of future projects should be considered.
Underlining concerns over Macron’s proposals, Germany’s biggest selling daily Bild warned that before seeking deeper EU integration, “France must once again be at the same level as Germany politically and economically”.

 

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