Tuesday

19th Mar 2019

Macron meets Merkel, says France must reform

  • The meeting in the chancellery "was not a knighting" by Merkel (l), said Macron (r). (Photo: Emmanuel Macron/Twitter)

France must reform itself if it wants to remain close to Germany and play a role in Europe, French presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron, said in Berlin on Thursday (16 March).

Macron, a centrist and liberal, running as an independent, is a favourite to win in May. He met with chancellor Angela Merkel for more than an hour.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Merkel had already met conservative candidate Francois Fillon in January before he was suspected of embezzlement. Merkel and Fillon are from the same European People's Party (EPP).

Merkel said she was ready to meet all French candidates, expect far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Macron said the meeting was not "a knighting" by the chancellor. However, it was the central piece of a trip to the German capital to polish his international image and European credentials.

Last month, he met British prime minister Theresa May in Downing Street.

Later in Berlin, he participated in a debate at the Hertie School of Governance, with Sigmar Gabriel, the leader of the Social-Democratic Party and foreign minister, and philosopher Juergen Habermas.

Habermas, one of Germany's most revered intellectuals, said that Macron "has dared to cross a red line that was left untouched since 1789. He has opened the frozen constellation between the political right and the political left."

Macron said that Merkel and him "agreed that Europe must go forward in a more efficient manner".

"I talked with someone who seemed very open to a stronger Franco-German couple. I found in the chancellor a real willingness to go forward," he told journalists outside the chancellery.

He presented himself as "the only true pro-European candidate" to the French presidency and said he was "proud of it".

"In the national debate, we need to promote a European agenda and take responsibility for this," he said.

"If you are a timid European, you are already a defeated European."

Among the other candidates, Le Pen wants to "do away" with the EU, Fillon wants "a sovereign France" and Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon wants to renegotiate EU treaties.

Macron said in Berlin that he did not want to "lecture Germans like many people in France have done before".

He said that France should first "take its responsibilities and reform itself". "It is only after that, that I expect [Germany] to move closer" to France, he told German ZDF TV.

"If you want to have the credibility, you have to take care of business at home," he said at the Hertie School debate.

"The key for me is to restore a level of trust that no longer exists."

According to the latest polls, Macron has gained on Fillon and would qualify for the second round, against Le Pen who is ahead of almost all polls. In the runoff, Macron would beat Le Pen, according to polls.

However, the level of undecided voters remains high, especially those who say they could vote for Macron.

The first TV debate between the main candidates on Monday (20 March) will be an important test for Macron's chances of winning.

France's Macron issues Brexit warning

The centrist presidential candidate tells talented Britons to come to France and warns against giving the UK "undue advantages" after Brexit, in a speech in London.

French candidates avoid EU debate

In their first TV debate, the main candidates for the April election only briefly discussed the country's EU policies, with far-right Le Pen and centrist Macron taking aim at each other.

News in Brief

  1. Four European cities among world's most expensive
  2. UK announces EEA trade deal ahead of EU summit
  3. Violent 'yellow vest' protesters ban in Paris
  4. Russia celebrates fifth anniversary of Crimea annexation
  5. Blow for May as third vote on Brexit deal ruled out
  6. Three killed in possible 'terror' gun attack in Utrecht
  7. Third Brexit vote this week only if DUP will support it
  8. Germany's two largest banks confirm merger talks

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  2. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  3. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  6. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  11. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  12. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson

Latest News

  1. May to seek Brexit extension amid UK 'constitutional crisis'
  2. Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides
  3. My plan for defending rule of law in EU
  4. Anti-corruption lawyer wins first round of Slovak elections
  5. The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019
  6. It is high time to exclude Fidesz from the EPP
  7. Brexit delay and Orban decision This WEEK
  8. EU must get real on Russia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us