Published: Tue, May 16, 2017
Entertaiment | By Minnie Bishop

Macron wins Merkel backing for bid to shake up Europe

Macron wins Merkel backing for bid to shake up Europe

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to avoid lecturing newly elected President Emmanuel Macron on overhauling France's economy when they meet in Berlin, saying she isn't a "know-it-all".

Although these ideas where not expressed by Macron or Merkel as they addressed the world's press they did say they would work together more closely on defence, reform and reducing bureaucracy.

She said Germany would also be willing to change European Union treaties if the changes make sense.

In a nod to German concerns, Mr Macron said at the news conference with Mrs Merkel that he had never pushed for jointly issued eurobonds and does not favour European countries taking joint responsibility for old debts. Germany, which has Europe's largest economy, has always opposed taking direct responsibility for weaker European Union countries' debts.

Mr Macron's presidential win itself was a seismic shift in a political landscape dominated for decades by the two main left-wing and right-wing parties. Alain Juppe, a former prime minister, called Philippe "a man of great talent" with "all the qualities to handle the hard job".

Philippe could possibly attract other Republicans to Macron's cause.

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.

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He was director of public affairs at the now struggling nuclear energy group Areva between 2007 and 2010. While Merkel and Macron did not decide on any specific measures, they agreed to stick to a "road map" of talks and negotiations. "She likes substance, she likes people who are hands on and she knows he won't take her for a ride", said the minister.

"If we can answer the questions of why, what for and explain the usefulness of such changes, then Germany would be ready for that anyway", she said, adding that she had briefly discussed this with Macron during the meeting. Macron previously met Merkel when he visited Berlin in March as a candidate.

In strategic terms, France will also be the only EU member on the UN Security Council and the bloc's only country with nuclear weapons after the United Kingdom leaves the union in 2019.

As a candidate, Macron called for a "new Franco-German deal" that would involve "much more structured cooperation" on investment, on European border security, and on defense.

Mr Philippe, like Mr Macron, attended the elite ENA school, and his political hero is Mr Rocard - another point in common with the 39 year-old new president. His appointment would be seen as an effort by the centrist Macron to build a majority in parliament by drawing in politicians from the right.

In turn, Merkel said she is open to a Macron proposal to create a level playing field between European Union countries and other global trade partners.

Germany is keen to continue with the Franco-German diplomatic drive to keep a lid on the situation in Ukraine.

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