Thursday

29th Feb 2024

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

Get the EU news that really matters

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.

Investigation

Far-right MEPs least disciplined in following party line

In a fractious parliamentary vote, the level of party discipline often decides the fate of legislation. Party discipline among nationalists and far-right MEPs is the weakest, something potentially significant after the June elections. Data by Novaya Gazeta Europe and EUobserver.

Latest News

  1. Podcast: Hyperlocal meets supranational
  2. Von der Leyen appeals for 'new EU defence mindset'
  3. EU supply chain law fails, with 14 states failing to back it
  4. Joined-up EU defence procurement on the horizon?
  5. Macron on Western boots in Ukraine: What he really meant
  6. Amazon lobbyists banned from EU Parliament
  7. MEPs adopt new transparency rules for political ads
  8. EU nature restoration law approved after massive backlash

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us