Merkel lauds Macron’s win, with eye on stronger EU

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

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.

PIC­TURE: AP

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron waves as he leaves a polling sta­tion in Le Tou­quet, north­ern France, af­ter cast­ing his vote on Sun­day.

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