World Economy

Merkel, Macron Pledge Eurozone Reform

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace  in Paris on July 13.German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace  in Paris on July 13.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed closer cooperation with France at a joint press conference with President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, including backing Macron’s suggestion of creating an EU finance minister position and a eurozone budget.

Speaking at the Elysee Palace, Merkel said she wanted to bring a new focus to Franco-German relations, promising a closer alliance between the two largest EU economies with the aim of reforming the bloc, France24 reported.

”I believe that we have shown shortly after the new government here was installed that we are ready to boost Franco-German relations with a new impetus,” Merkel said.

Merkel also said she was open to the creation of an EU finance minister position and a budget for the eurozone, as proposed by Macron. The moves would require changes to current EU treaties. “I have nothing against a eurozone budget (and) we can talk about creating a European finance minister,” Merkel said.

“We agree that the eurozone must be stabilized and further developed,” Merkel added. “It is in our greatest interest that all eurozone countries are strong.”

Merkel hinted in late May that a major geostrategic shift may be under way when she told a Munich rally that Europe must fight “for our destiny” in the wake of Brexit and an apparent US withdrawal from the world stage.

Merkel said that while last week’s G-20 summit saw some common ground with the United States–on fighting terrorism, for example–”we also had to name clear differences, for instance, regrettably, the difference on whether we need the Paris climate accord or not”.

“We did not paper over these differences,” she added. “But nevertheless, maintaining contact (with the US)–the ability to communicate–is, of course, important.”

France and Germany also agreed to jointly develop a “new generation” of European fighter jets that would replace their current fleets, which Macron called a “revolution” in their defense relations.

Macron and Merkel said they both supported the European defense fund, calling it an “important pillar of the integration of the European defense sector”.

The fund, which was created by the EU last month with an annual budget of €5.5 billion ($6.1 billion), lays the basis for permanent EU military cooperation.




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