French President Emmanuel Macron spent his first full day in office traveling to Germany, telling Chancellor Angela Merkel he wants to work closely with her to create “deep reforms” to the European Union.
Macron said in Berlin Monday there must be a “less bureaucratic” Europe and that he is ready to change EU treaties if needed.
He also said France will push for economic reforms in the country to bring down unemployment and implement a reform agenda “not because Europe requests it, but because France needs it.”
Macron said he does not favor European countries taking joint responsibility for old debts and that he has never pushed for jointly issued eurobonds. Germany, which has Europe’s largest economy, has always opposed taking direct responsibility for weaker EU countries’ debts.
Merkel told Macron “Europe will only do well if there is a strong France, and I am committed to that.”
The German chancellor said she and Macron agreed to develop a medium-term road map on how to deepen European Union integration. She said Germany would also be willing to change EU treaties if the changes make sense. But the two countries should first work on what they want to reform, she added.
She said the French and German governments would hold a meeting on key issues in July.
The visit to Germany marked Macron’s first foreign trip after his inauguration on Sunday, continuing a tradition of French presidents making their first international trip to Germany.
In his inaugural address, Macron vowed to restore France’s place in Europe and the world.
Macron, a centrist, was elected last week, defeating anti-EU, anti-immigrant candidate Marine Le Pen. The campaign exposed deep splits in France over the country’s role in Europe.