Merkel to Court Neglected 'Ethnic German' Migrant Voters Ahead of National Election

Xavier Trudeau
Mai 18, 2017

The German chancellor added that her suggestion "isn't malicious" but an "obstacle" would be created to "compensate" the remaining 27 European Union member states if such a policy emerged.

In keeping with tradition, the French president paid a visit to Merkel in his first trip overseas after taking office on Sunday.

But the proposals sent alarm bells ringing in Berlin, and initial relief about his victory against far-right leader Marine Le Pen had quickly given way to fears about his reform plans.

The two met in Berlin on Mr Macron's first full day in office, which started with him naming 46-year-old Edouard Philippe as his new prime minister.

She added that "this isn't malicious" but if Britain, for example, says that only 100,000 or 200,000 EU citizens are allowed into the country, "we would have to think about what obstacle we create from the European side to compensate for that". Speaking at the Labour 20 meeting of the G20, she said "Germany has pledged to take in 500 refugees every month, we're trying to do our bit".

Merkel said that Germany needs France to succeed, emphasising that "Europe will only do well if there is a strong France".

The two core European powers wanted to give "a new push" to their cooperation and "new momentum" to the Franco-German axis, added Merkel.

Macron previously met Merkel in Berlin in March while still a candidate and called for a "new Franco-German deal" that would see "much more structured cooperation" on the countries' investment, European Union border security and defense.

Some of the reforms Macron has floated include the creation of a finance minister for the eurozone, a shared budget and EU-wide social insurance.

Later this month, he will also meet Donald Trump, when the USA president - believed to have preferred Le Pen to Macron - visits Brussels for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit. While Germany's economy - Europe's largest - has been performing well in recent years, France's has stalled. The two leaders said that they would hold a Franco-German ministerial meeting in July to work on common proposals to reform the European Union, including initiatives to have converging tax rules.

But some of Mr Macron's ideas about economic reform have raised eyebrows in Berlin - in an election year Angela Merkel won't risk anything which voters might perceive as a German bailout of struggling member states. The campaign exposed deep splits in France over the country's role in Europe.

Alain Juppe, a former French prime minister, called Mr Philippe "a man of great talent" with "all the qualities to handle the hard job". A trained lawyer, he worked as public affairs director for the state nuclear group Areva between 2007 and 2010, before becoming a member of parliament in 2012, and then mayor of Le Havre in 2014.

Freedom of movement between the United Kingdom and the European Union remains a central issue in negotiations over Brexit, whose supporters often pointed to migration as one of the most compelling reasons to leave the 28-member bloc.

Merkel, however, appeared keen to support Macron ahead of next month's general election in which he will faces a tough battle to win an outright majority.

On the subject of debt, he added: "I have never defended (the idea of) Eurobonds or the mutualisation of existing debt in the euro zone".

"He's pro-European, more pro-European than Hollande has been", Fuchs said.

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