Merkel and Macron agree to draw up roadmap to deeper European Union integration
May 19 2017 by Desiree Burns
France's new President Emmanuel Macron has secured backing from key ally Chancellor Angela Merkel for his bid to shake up Europe, despite scepticism in Berlin over his proposed reforms.
Merkel on Monday said at a joint press conference with Macron that she was even prepared to consider the long-taboo option of European Union treaty change "if it makes sense".
The talks with Merkel are likely to focus on how Europe's power couple can drive reforms of the bloc, with Macron pushing for deeper European Union ties to help it overcome the imminent departure of Britain.
"This isn't malicious, but I can't have all the good sides and then say there's a cap of 100,000 or 200,000 European Union citizens, more aren't allowed into Britain - perhaps researchers as well, but no others, please", Merkel said. That was a new tone for the chancellor, sounding more positive about the possibility of treaty changes than she had in recent months.
And, despite the smiles on Monday, Mr Macron has yet to prove himself.
Macron said France and Germany had come "at a historic moment in their history" and both have a responsibility to fight against populism and restore faith in the European project.
France's youngest ever president, who defeated far-right leader Marine Le Pen on May 7, is hoping to sink the traditional parties in June's parliamentary elections by building a new centrist force.
Macron's party announced a list of 428 candidates, majority political unknowns, last Thursday to fight the parliamentary elections.
In Berlin, Mr Macron declined to answer a question about his new prime minister, only saying the choice of Mr Philippe is part of the new political landscape he is promoting.
French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who won almost 20% of the vote in the first round of the presidential election, also reacted with hostility.
At least 24 Socialists are now campaigning for re-election under the banner of Mr Macron's Republic on the Move party.
The French leader said that "deep reforms" are required for the European Union that "need common work" from Paris and Berlin.
It also needs unanimity among the 28 and that is impossible until Britain's departure is complete and the 27 set about their own future.
Speaking in Berlin alongside Ms Merkel, Mr Macron dispelled rumours he wanted to convert national debt into eurozone debt.
More than 20 French media organizations signed an open letter to Macron on Thursday night to express their concerns.
The visit comes as the German Chancellor, who is looking to win a fourth term as chancellor in federal elections in September, celebrates a big election win for her party.
By contrast, Socialist President Francois Hollande had confidence ratings of 58 percent when he took office in May 2012, conservative Nicolas Sarkozy 59 percent in 2007, Jacques Chirac 53 percent when re-elected in 2002 and 61 percent when he was first elected in 1995.
Based on a projection, Macron's party would win between 280 and 300 seats of the 535 mainland French seats in the lower house of parliament.