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© Aris Oikonomou, AFP | France's President Emmanuel Macron (L) speaks to journalists next to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel as they arrive for an informal meeting of the 27 EU heads of state or government at the European Council on 23 February 2018.


Latest update : 2018-03-16

French President Emmanuel Macron called Friday for a "clear, ambitious" roadmap for EU reforms by June as he sought crucial support for his shake-up of the bloc from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Speaking after talks between the two leaders in Paris, Merkel backed the deadline, telling a joint press conference: "We have to achieve results by June."

Macron has called for a major reform drive to reinvigorate the EU, including a common eurozone finance minister and budget, but some European leaders have expressed reservations.

The French president has been counting on support from Merkel, the leader of Europe's biggest economy -- but nearly six months of politico limbo in Germany as she struggled to form a coalition government forced him to put his plans on hold.

Flying into Paris for her first foreign trip since she was finally granted a fourth term Wednesday at the head of a hard-fought coalition, Merkel said the Franco-German relationship remained key for Europe's future.

"We do not always have the same opinions at first but France and Germany have accomplished a lot together in the past," she said.

"We now want to find common paths ahead," she added.

"I am determined to get there and I think we can do it. It is more necessary than ever that Europe be united in a geopolitical situation in which multilateralism is under pressure."

Macron also said it was key for the EU to find a united way forward as it confronts a host of challenges including Brexit, migration and the rise of populism reflected most recently in the Italian elections. 

"This is our task by June: on the eurozone, on migration policy, defence, trade, research, education and large areas that we have been able to set out -- we will propose a clear, ambitious roadmap for this refoundation by June." 

He congratulated Merkel on her new government, adding: "I have to tell you that the joy was all ours when it ended well."

And he reiterated his support for Britain after the brazen assassination attempt on a  Russian former double agent.

"We condemn this Russian interference as everything leads us to believe that it was indeed Russia" that was behind the nerve agent attack, he told reporters.


Date created : 2018-03-16


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