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French, German govts in joint meeting to bolster ties

© Tiziana Fabi, AFP | German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron attend the Western Balkans summit in Piazza Unita d'Italia in Trieste, northern Italy, July 12, 2017.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-07-13

When the French and German governments sit down for a joint cabinet meeting, the intended message will be clear: the Paris-Berlin alliance that has driven EU integration for the last 59 years is back.

But with less than three months before Germany's legislative elections, it will be difficult for Paris and Berlin to move ahead on key issues such as the reform of the eurozone.

French President Emmanuel Macron was elected in May promising to overhaul the 28-member bloc with a host of initiatives to deepen EU integration in the areas of defence, security and immigration.

Macron has proposed creating a finance minister, parliament and budget for the eurozone, which would require changes to EU treaties.

"With the Chancellor [Angela Merkel], I want to build ambitious and concrete projects, with a clear purpose," he told regional daily Ouest-France on Thursday. "I want the eurozone to have more coherence and convergence."

Macron warned Germany that it must move to correct the "dysfunctions" of the eurozone and give it "the fate it deserves".

"France must reform its economy to give it more vigour," he added, but Germany, for its part, "must support a revival of public and private investment in Europe".

FRANCE 24's Berlin correspondent Jessica Saltz said that “there are high hopes that Macron is going to kickstart the Franco-German motor,” but with German elections just two months away Merkel is unlikely to agree to any drastic changes in policy.

Both governments, however, have indicated a desire to increase defense cooperation, with the eventual creation of a European defense union--a proposal that has found growing support from the European Commission.

The French leader is also set to press Merkel for a financial and military contribution to a joint anti-jihadist regional force called the G5 Sahel made up of forces from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

It is not the first time the French and German governments have held a joint cabinet meeting -- the last one was in April -- but both sides are keen to capitalise on the momentum generated by Macron's victory.

The bloc is still grappling with the fallout from Britain's shock vote to exit the EU in a referendum in June 2016.

But Brexit, along with perceived threats from the United States under president Donald Trump, as well as from Russia, has given it a renewed sense of purpose.

After a morning of discussions with Merkel, Macron will host Trump for talks in the afternoon, before they head to dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2017-07-13

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