Changing EU treaty 'not taboo' for France anymore - Macron after meeting Merkel

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 24, 2017

"I told myself that the situation we were in was so unique that we should try something that had never been tried before", Philippe, a lawmaker and mayor of the port city of Le Havre from the center-right Republicans, said in comments broadcast by TF1 television.

He has said he wants to reform the eurozone, giving it a common budget and its own finance minister, but he will need German backing.

Although he won the May 7 election against National Front candidate Marine Le Pen with 66% of the vote, his party was only founded previous year and has never held a single National Assembly seat.

Macron, who appointed Edouard Philippe from the center-right Republicans party as his prime minister earlier Monday, refused to answer specific questions about his choice in Berlin.

The German chancellor greeted President Macron with warm words during the official press conference and pledged that this new partnership would be one of trust and close cooperation.

However for this to work, Macron would have to make domestically hard changes to France's labor costs and taxes, now among the highest in Europe.

Taking over from outgoing prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve during a short ceremony, Philippe described himself as "a man of the right" who was driven by "the greater good".

Philippe has been presented as his Trojan horse on the right of the spectrum.

At least 24 Socialists are now campaigning for re-election under the banner of Mr Macron's Republic on the Move party.

French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who won almost 20% of the vote in the first round of the presidential election, also reacted with hostility.

"I am not a promoter of the mutualisation of old debt" within the eurozone, said Macron after meeting Merkel, adding however that the joint financing of future projects should be considered. They agreed on trying to deepen European Union integration.

Macron said "treaty change long used to be a French taboo", but that this would change now that he was president.

Mr Macron is also hoping to reform France's economy, he promised Ms Merkel he would implement the changes to bolster its position in the EU. "She likes substance, she likes people who are hands on and she knows he won't take her for a ride", said the minister.

As a candidate, Mr Macron called for a "new Franco-German deal" that would involve "much more structured co-operation" on investment, on European border security and on defence.

Last week Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) - junior partner in Merkel's coalition - accused Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble of the CDU of trying to "torpedo" Macron's European Union reform plans for political reasons ahead of Germany's election in September.

Breathing new life into the European Union is just one of a host of challenges Macron faces.

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