Wednesday

18th Jul 2018

Merkel and Hollande to lay out EU vision in Strasbourg

German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande will address the European Parliament together for the first time on Wednesday (7 October).

They are expected to talk about the refugees crisis, the euro, and European values.

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.

... our join as a group

  • Merkel and Hollande will try to demonstrate their common leadership of the EU (Photo: elysee.fr)

Leaders will speak 15 minutes each before a debate with the parliament's political group chiefs.

"This is a historic visit for historically difficult times", said the president of the parliament, Martin Schulz, who initiated the visit.

The last time German and French leaders went together to Strasbourg was in November 1989, when Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand spoke about the challenges facing Europe a few days after the fall of the Berlin wall.

Today "we expect a statement of principle on the state of the EU and its perspectives, its priorities," Schulz said.

Though Merkel and Hollande will try to show common leadership in line with Europe's old "Franco-German motor", relations are not as close as they seem.

On the refugee crisis, Germany and France have been at odds, especially over Paris' reluctance to endorse EU quotas for migrant relocations.

France has taken in just a few hundreds refugees coming from Germany.



Thee leaders also see the future of Syria in different ways. Hollande has said Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad has to go, but Merkel is more open to a political solution with Assad at the negotiating table.

Eurozone

Merkel and Hollande will also try to set out a common vision for the future of the eurozone in the wake of the Greek crisis.

In May, the German and French leaders published a joint plan for a strengthening the single currency.

They proposed regular euro summits and "specific structures" within the European Parliament. They also proposed to explore "the possibility of strengthening the Eurogroup president".

In July and September, France went further and proposed the creation of a "vanguard" of euro states, a euro commissioner with extended powers, and a special eurozone budget.



This idea, which implies financial transfers from richer to poorer eurozone countries, "breaks a German taboo", France admitted at the time.

Merkel and Hollande are expected to clarify their position on the issue, and on whether EU treaties should be changed to shore up the euro.

The discussion overlaps a debate on EU reforms demanded by British PM David Cameron ahead of the EU membership referendum in the UK.


But neuter Merkel or Hollande are willing to change the EU charter for the sake of British requests.

Analysis

Hollande's limited eurozone vision

With his proposals for a more integrated eurozone, the French president is looking beyond the Greek crisis. But does he have a plan?

Germany sets example on EU migrants

Thousands of people seeking refuge arrived in Germany over the weekend as Austria announces plans 'to end emergency migrant measures'.

Analysis

Will Austria's presidency give EU a populist push?

As Sebastian Kurz's government takes over the helm of EU-policy making for the next six months, Austrian MEPs from opposing sides weigh in on the EU's youngest prime minister's possible influence on the continent's future.

Interview

EU populists not actually that 'popular', says global activist

"The populists are not popular. It's 14 percent of the vote in Germany and smaller percentages in other countries," says global campaigner Ricken Patel, considering to use his organisation, Avaaz, to raise turnout in next year's European parliament elections.

Interview

EU populists not actually that 'popular', says global activist

"The populists are not popular. It's 14 percent of the vote in Germany and smaller percentages in other countries," says global campaigner Ricken Patel, considering to use his organisation, Avaaz, to raise turnout in next year's European parliament elections.

Opinion

Rutte - from 'Mr No' to 'next Tusk'?

Make no mistake – Rutte, sometimes considered as a potential candidate to succeed Donald Tusk, is one of the toughest of the EU's current heads of state.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us