Merkel lauds Macron’s win, with eye on stronger EU
BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the victory of French President Emmanuel Macron’s party in the first round of parliamentary elections a “strong vote for reforms” and a senior official signalled Berlin’s willingness to deepen co-operation.
France is Germany’s second-biggest trading partner and the strong support for pro-European centrist reformer Macron has sparked hopes that Berlin and Paris will spearhead a broad-based economic revival in Europe and a push for more integration in the euro zone.
Projections after the first election round on Sunday showed Macron’s fledgling party is set to trounce France’s traditional main parties and secure a huge majority to push through pro-business reforms.
“Chancellor Merkel: My heartfelt congratulations to Emmanuel Macron to the great success of his party in the first election round.
“Strong vote for reforms,” the government tweeted.
Merkel and Macron agreed last month to draft a roadmap to deeper EU integration and suggested the bloc’s treaties might change to facilitate even more ambitious reform.
The finance ministers of both countries, Wolfgang Schäeuble and Bruno le Maire, have set up a joint working group that is due to present ideas next month on deepening euro zone integration.
Germany’s Deputy Finance Minister Jens Spahn said he hoped Macron would be able to quickly implement reforms that would boost growth in France’s economy.
“If we can help in this regard, we will certainly help,” Spahn told Deutschlandfunk broadcaster.
Spahn, a senior member of Merkel’s conservatives, said Berlin was open to discuss Macron’s proposals for a joint euro zone finance minister and a shared budget in the bloc, but said it was important to first clarify the role and responsibilities.
He repeated Berlin’s rejection of a mutualisation of debt within the currency bloc, a step many Germans fear would make Berlin pay for struggling states that resist reform.
However, he said Germany was willing to increase its role in financing investment projects in Europe. “We’re open for a lot of things in this regard,” Spahn said.
French President Emmanuel Macron waves as he leaves a polling station in Le Touquet, northern France, after casting his vote on Sunday.