France's Macron says EU treaty change 'not taboo'

18 May, 2017, 17:32 | Author: Lorena Waters
  • Newly-appointed French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe attends a handover ceremony at the Hotel Matignon in Paris France

The pair said they are both prepared even to implement treaty changes if needed.

Mrs Merkel called Mr Macron's visit an honour and a sign of the deep friendship between the two European powerhouses.

"Today, we exchanged views and agreed to cooperate closely", Merkel said.

Britain would have to pay a price if it put limits on the free movement of European Union citizens after its departure from the bloc, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told trade unionists on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, he and Philippe were finalising a government which Macron says will supersede France's entrenched left-right divide and breathe new life into the country's jaded political landscape.

She said: "It is very much in the hands of Great Britain and the British government, how they shape the relations later".

"First we need to work on what we want to change, and then if it turns out it needs a treaty change, then we're prepared to do that", she said.

After a private meeting with Hollande and his first speech as president, Macron headed up the rainy Champs Elysees avenue in an army vehicle, waving to small crowds of wellwishers.

Germany and France have traditionally been the motor of European integration, but the relationship has become increasingly lopsided over recent years as France struggled economically.

Mr Macron dispelled the idea circulating in German media that he was in favour of turning national debts of eurozone countries into eurozone debt. Europe's so-called Franco-German motor has often worked best in the past when leaders of opposite political persuasions have been in power.

"But first, we should figure out what we plan to do and after that we could make changes, if necessary".

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The 39-year-old former investment banker and economy minister was inaugurated on Sunday as the 25th President of France and also the youngest in the nation's history in a ceremony at the Élysee Palace.

Mr Philippe's politics and interests mirror those of Mr Macron. The man of the hour: Edouard Philippe, mayor of Le Havre.

And, despite the smiles on Monday, Mr Macron has yet to prove himself.

But not everyone was pleased with the Philippe announcement.

Merkel welcomed Macron's election victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen, saying he carried "the hopes of millions of French people and also many in Germany and across Europe".

Defeated by a Macron landslide, she denounced what she predicted would be a continuation of old policies, including "austerity, submission to Brussels, massive immigration".

Macron's party Le Republique en Marche has unveiled more than 400 candidates for June's elections.

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. "At the end, when we look to the judge, it's going to be the voters who raise the winner's arms", he said.

The fervently pro-European Macron wants to push for deeper ties in the 28-member European Union to help the bloc overcome the imminent departure of Britain which voted to leave past year.

Ironically, candidates of the right-wing populist United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which was the main cheerleader for Britain leaving the European Union, fared badly in the local elections and it is now teetering towards extinction as most of its high-profile leaders, including the enigmatic Nigel Farrage, have walked away from it, leaving the Conservatives to deal with the fall-out from last year's referendum.

Mr Macron is the conservative Mrs Merkel's fourth French president in almost 12 years as chancellor.

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