FRANKFURT: Macron urges Merkel to fight for EU revival
FRANKFURT: French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday pleaded his case for ambitious European reforms, appealing to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to join forces with him and enter the debate.
“If we are ready for common policies on security, digital infrastructure, energy, migration, the fight against terrorism, then who can explain to me why we can’t have a common eurozone budget?” Macron said in Frankfurt, where he was due to open the annual book fair alongside Merkel.
Macron said he believed European leaders had “one year” to lay out their vision of the bloc’s future in the run-up to the 2019 European Parliament elections, speaking to students in the city’s Goethe University.
“I think we need to start the debate, we have a year to clarify and draw up a common roadmap.
“This is what I would like to come and do in Germany on several occasions and what I invite the chancellor to come to France and do as well, as well as other willing leaders,” Macron said.
Merkel has responded cautiously to Macron’s grand vision for a more closely integrated Europe, which he first outlined in a landmark speech last month at the Sorbonne University in Paris.
She welcomed Macron’s “European passion” but her government has said it was premature to comment on the details.
The issue of a common eurozone budget is especially controversial in Germany, the biggest EU economy, which fears it will lead to a pooling of national debt with Berlin picking up the tab for poorer member states.
In an interview set to appear in German media on Wednesday, Merkel said again she needed more time to study his proposals in detail and reiterated Germany’s stance on the debt issue.
“With me, there will be no pooling of national debt,” she told the RND regional media group.
Macron was visiting the Oct. 11-15 Frankfurt Book Fair, where more than 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries are expected and France is this year’s guest of honor.
Macron’s call for Merkel’s backing comes as the chancellor is heading into thorny coalition talks with two smaller parties after winning a difficult victory in elections last month.
One of them is the liberal and pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), which views Macron’s proposals skeptically and opposes any idea of German taxpayers’ money flowing to weaker EU economies.