Friday

12th Aug 2022

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

European right hopes Macron will save France

With Fillion all-but out of the election, a senior European politician said "committees" are working on what to do if Le Pen wins and takes France out of the EU.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us