Macron, Merkel ready to change EU treaties

Reuters

France's new President Emmanuel Macron secured backing on Monday from key ally German Chancellor Angela Merkel for his bid to shake up the European Union, despite skepticism in Berlin over his proposed reforms.

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.

The meeting's warm tone reflected rising hopes in Germany that Mr. Macron may be able to deliver what officials in Berlin have long demanded: a convincing overhaul of France's tightly regulated economy that would jump-start growth in the eurozone's second-largest economy.

Germany, which has Europe's biggest economy, has vehemently opposed taking direct responsibility for weaker eurozone countries' debts.

A day after his inauguration, the fervently pro-EU Macron made his first trip overseas to Germany, the other half of the power couple driving European integration.

Macron said in Berlin Monday there must be a "less bureaucratic" Europe and that he is ready to change European Union treaties if needed.

Several ministers, including Le Maire, have said they will stand in the parliamentary election, and Philippe confirmed that they would have to quit the government if they lost.

Merkel and Macron want to kick-start ties with an alliance some German media have dubbed "Merkron".

The visit to Germany marked Macron's first foreign trip after his inauguration on Sunday, continuing a tradition of French presidents making their first Global trip to Germany.

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During their meeting, followed by a dinner in the German chancellery, outside of which people had gathered to cheer Macron, the German and French leaders also discussed issues like the posted workers directive, the reform of the European Union asylum system and reciprocity in trade.

His appointment was seen as a strategic move by Macron, who is trying to woo modernisers of all stripes to his new centrist party, the Republique en Marche (Republic on the Move, REM), having already won over dozens of moderate Socialist MPs.

"We can give the entire [European] construct a new dynamic", Merkel said, adding Europe could only progress with a "strong France" within.

Macron also urged a "historic reconstruction" of Europe in order to battle a surge of populism, after defeating far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

He is also relatively unknown to voters, fulfilling Mr Macron's campaign promise to repopulate French politics with new faces.

Newly appointed French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe at the handover ceremony in Paris.

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.

Le Drian is expected to be the only member of the outgoing Socialist government to be kept on, with Macron keeping a careful distance from the little-loved administration of his predecessor Francois Hollande. The center-right parliamentarian has lived in Germany and is a fluent German speaker.

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