France and Germany ‘agree’ on proposed EU reforms, Merkel says

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 28.09.2017 21:04
Updated 28.09.2017 21:23
France's President Emmanuel Macron (L) meets with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel on the eve of the European Union Digital Summit in Tallinn on September 28, 2017. (AFP Photo)
France's President Emmanuel Macron (L) meets with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel on the eve of the European Union Digital Summit in Tallinn on September 28, 2017. (AFP Photo)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday hailed a deep consensus between France and Germany on the future of the EU in her first reaction to French President Emmanuel Macron's ambitious EU reform speech.

"There is a wide agreement between France and Germany when it comes to the proposals although we must work on the details," Merkel told reporters before an EU leaders dinner to discuss a raft of reforms proposed by Macron in a landmark speech on Tuesday.

Macron offered a sweeping vision for Europe's future in a speech on Tuesday, calling for the EU to cooperate more closely on defense, immigration, tax and social policy, and for the single currency bloc to have its own budget.

Merkel, who was speaking before attending a summit on Europe's digital economy, said that Europe had an interest in fighting protectionism and was looking to sign free trade agreements with other countries.

She also said that Macron had made clear that Germany and France wanted to work closely on harmonizing corporate tax and insolvency law.

"I think that's very positive. I see a good basis in the speech of the French president for France and Germany to cooperate intensively in future," she said.

Macron's proposals for a post-Brexit shake-up of the EU include a finance minister, budget and parliament for the 19-member eurozone, as well as an EU-wide "rapid reaction force" to work with national armies.

"For Germany, growth, jobs and competition play a major role," said Merkel, who was elected to a fourth term on Sunday.

Merkel's encouragement will be welcomed by Macron who is keen for Germany's quick endorsement of his reform agenda, but Sunday's election in Germany left the chancellor seeking new allies to rebuild a ruling majority.

Merkel must now try to form a government likely to include the Free Democratic Party, whose leader Christian Lindner considers Macron's call for a eurozone budget to be a "red line".

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