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1ST LEAD Merkel to visit Macron on Friday ahead of next week's EU summit By Pol O Gradaigh, dpa

Europe
14.03.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Paris (dpa) - Newly re-elected German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit France‘s Emmanuel Macron on Friday, a source in the French presidential palace said.

The two leaders, who have had a strong relationship since Macron‘s election last year, will hold a "working session," the source said on Wednesday.

Macron himself took to Twitter to congratulate Merkel on her re-election, and called for the two leaders to work together to strengthen the European Union.

"Congratulations to Chancellor Angela Merkel," Macron wrote on Wednesday. "Let us work together to move Europe forward, faster and stronger."

The tweet hinted at what is likely to be a key issue when the two meet: Macron‘s ambitious agenda for greater eurozone integration.

The French president has been eager for a new German government to be formed, hopeful that Berlin will join his campaign for moves such as a eurozone budget and greater tax harmonization.

However, it is not clear whether the two leaders will be able, as they suggested in December, to put definite proposals before a European summit scheduled for March 23-24.

German news magazine Der Spiegel at the weekend quoted an unnamed EU official involved in the summit preparations as saying that the issue "has been called off."

The German side blamed extended coalition negotiations in Berlin for the delay, he said, although Merkel‘s first attempt at forming a coalition had already broken down by December.

Work on the reforms would "intensify in close partnership with France," a German government spokesman told the magazine.

Merkel was guarded in comments about the issue on Monday in Berlin.

"We will certainly not clear up all the questions, but we‘ll be able to say more than we could in December," she said. "We‘ll get a lot of clarity about what we can think about as the next step."

The planned visit is also a symbolic nod to the close Franco-German relationship that is at the heart of the European Union‘s politics.

As such, it is a sort of return call: Macron visited Merkel in Berlin the day after his inauguration as president last May.

 

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