Tuesday, 24 April, 2018

Mixed reactions in Germany to Macron EU speech

17 Apr 2018, 20:58 ( 6 days ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and France's President Emmanuel Macron (R). File Photo Xinhua.

A widely-publicized speech given by French President Emmanuel Macron at the European Parliament on Tuesday has met with mixed reactions in Germany.

   Speaking to delegates in Strasbourg, Macron reiterated earlier calls to create a shared eurozone budget with sufficient "capacity to promote the convergence and stability of the eurozone", as well as demanding the completion of the European banking union.

   German Chancellor and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader, Angela Merkel, subsequently insisted that Berlin would not act as an obstacle to necessary change in the European Union (EU) but warned against "reducing EU reforms to the eurozone alone".

   "There is much more at stake than the question of how the eurozone is further developed," Merkel added, mentioning joint European defense and research policy as equally important issues.

   She said she shared Macron's views on the need to speed up the EU reform process in general. Merkel announced that Germany would make "independent contributions" to the solution of European challenges and identified the creation of a banking union as the most pressing issue in the specific context of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

   "I am confident that we will not fail to assemble a strong reform package," Merkel told press, while expressing confidence that "shared solutions" could be found with France prior to an EU summit in June.

   Reacting to Macron's speech, German Social Democrat (SPD) parliamentary faction leader Andrea Nahles further signaled Berlin's willingness to support efforts to transform the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) into a permanent European Monetary Fund (EMF).

   "We are on the same side as Mr. Macron in this regard," Nahles said.

   Similarly, Left party (Linke) parliamentary faction leader Dietmar Bartsch welcomed many of Macron's reform suggestions on Tuesday. 

   Bartsch said he would "sign off on many of the things which (Macron) has said". Nevertheless, it was high time for the EU and Germany to finally turn nice words into actions.

   "If there can be a rebirth of Europe, it can only be as a social Europe," Bartsch argued. "Obscene wealth" and "bitter poverty" could no longer co-exist, he said.

   By contrast, Free Democratic Party (FDP) leader Christian Linder reacted with skepticism to Macron's proposals to deepen European monetary integration.

   "For us as Free Democrats, the individual responsibility of member states with regards to financial policy is holy," Lindner said.

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