Merkel: British EU immigration cap would have price

May 20, 2017, 00:29
Merkel: British EU immigration cap would have price

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and new French President Emmanuel Macron agreed on Monday to draw up a roadmap to deeper European Union integration and opened the door to changing the bloc's treaties to facilitate ambitious reform.

During the Cabinet meeting, Macron called on his ministers to have the "necessary discipline" and "solidarity" despite their sometimes stark political differences, government spokesman Christophe Castaner said.

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. She said she was personally prepared to make the case for such a change. "I will reform not because Europe asks for it, but because France needs it", he said.

"We know that in the world in which we live in it's not the president who imposes foreign policy, but foreign policy that imposes itself on the president", said Francois Heisbourg, a Macron adviser and chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Ahead of his visit, Macron's ideas on reforming the eurozone - including giving it a separate budget and minister, moves that would require treaty change - had sparked scepticism in Berlin.

Mr Macron's trip to Berlin highlighted his pro-European politics and desire to work with Mrs Merkel on what he says must become "a more efficient Europe, a more democratic Europe, a more political Europe".

"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.

In the weeks since, however, some analysts and media have focused on how Macron's plans could be costly for Germany, with Der Spiegel running the headline "Our dear friend" - using the term "dear" to mean expensive.

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Merkel will be buoyed by his remarks as she basks in the glory of winning three consecutive regional elections, in Schleswig-Holstein, Saarland and the crucial state of North Rhine-Westphalia - which is the most populous state of Germany and includes Dusseldorf, Bonn, Cologne, Dortmund, and Essen.

He denied being in favour of making all countries that use the euro liable for other individual countries' existing debt.

However, he signaled readiness to look at sharing future burdens.

Any reforms would likely still have to be held off until after September, when Merkel faces reelection.

He said labour reform, highly controversial in France, "must be launched very quickly".

Around 20 MPs on Monday issued a statement urging the Republicans and centre-right UDI to "accept his outstretched hand", saying the right needed to "take the full measure of the political transformation taking place before their eyes".

Merkel warmly welcomed the fourth president to occupy the Elysee Palace since she came to power 12 years ago. By appointing him, Macron has passed over loyal followers such as Richard Ferrand, a former Socialist who was one of the first to join Mr Macron's cause previous year and is secretary general of REM.

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