France and Germany Agree ‘Intense’ Partnership to Push Federal EU After Brexit

Brexit
LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have agreed an “intense” partnership to drive the European Union (EU) towards deeper integration after Brexit.

Mrs. Merkel praised the young French premier’s ambitious vision for the bloc after he called for the EU to work more closely on defence and migration and for a eurozone budget.

“Last night’s discussions showed there’s a common realisation of a need for a leap forward in Europe,” Mr. Macron told reporters from Reuters on Friday after an EU summit dinner in the Estonian capital Tallinn.

“Today we’re all convinced Europe must move ahead faster and stronger, for more sovereignty, more unity, and more democracy,” he added.

Mrs. Merkel told reporters before the meeting with Mr. Macron that his ideas could be the basis for “intense” Franco-German cooperation.

She said: “As far as the proposals were concerned, there was a high level of agreement between German and France.

“We must still discuss the details, but I am of the firm conviction that Europe can’t just stay still but must continue to develop.”

In a wide-ranging speech earlier this week, Mr. Macron called on Germany to work with France to reform Europe, and drive it towards a federal superstate.

He urged European leaders to put a vision for the EU above their national interests, saying in his address that he had “no red lines, only horizons”.

Many EU leaders are of course cautious of France and Germany seizing more power and pursuing federalist agenda at a time of growing Euroscepticism and nationalism and falling trust in globalised institutions.

Donald Tusk, the European Council president and a former Polish premier, added a note of caution, urging a “step-by-step” approach to “real problems”.

President of eurozone member Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, tweeted during the dinner: “European horizons drawn. Important to avoid mirages in the desert on the way.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters countries needed first to reform their own economies: “You’re starting with the endpoint… There is a discussion about a European finance minister — but no one has told me what he would do.”

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