Merkel strikes reserved tone ahead of Macron's Europe speech

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech to mark the 500th anniversary of Protestant Reform at the Hotel de Ville City Hall in Paris
Emmanuel Macron looks to stamp 'non' on banker-style jobless payouts

27 September, 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron set out an ambitious vision for the reform of the European Union this afternoon, including a shared budget across member states.

"Merkel has secured a fourth term as chancellor, but emerged weakened, facing hard coalition talks and reduced chances to proceed with a compromising attitude towards Macron's demands for a more integrated Europe", Xinhua quoted Adriaan Schout, coordinator of European Union (EU) affairs at Clingendael, as saying on Monday.

At a news conference after a German election that has forced her to consider a new coalition with the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), a party critical of Macron's ideas on Europe, Merkel said her conservative CDU/CSU bloc would support sensible measures but also wanted to see countries become more competitive. He used Tuesday's speech to push that agenda, saying it would allow for greater investment in European projects and stabilise the Eurozone during periods of economic crisis.

"We share the same European ambitions and I know her commitment to Europe", he said of Merkel.

The New Zealand dollar was also hit by political jitters as the ruling National Party won the largest number votes in a weekend election but failed to secure a ruling majority, with a protracted period of coalition-building now also a possibility there.

Macron said the eurozone needs a stronger budget and consideration should be given to funding it with a specific tax.

Macron also called for the formation of a joint European military intervention force that should have an autonomous intervention capacity complementary to that of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance, and a common strategic culture. By then, he said every student in the EU should speak at least two languages, and there should be a minimum of 20 cross-border "European Universities".

Macron said, "I believe deeply in this innovation economy", but insisted that "we must have this debate" about making taxation more fair.

"Europe needs to be an economic and monetary power", Macron said, adding that an European Union budget is needed to fund investment and absorb economic shocks.

Macron's policies have met resistance at home, and riot police held back a few dozen protesters outside the Sorbonne.

By 2024, he said, half of the European Parliament should be elected from a pan-European list, with the first seats up for a pan-European vote being the ones vacated by the United Kingdom when it exits the EU in 2019.

But less than five months into his five-year term, Macron faces the threat that Merkel, 63 and looking to start her fourth term, has less capacity to move than either would have hoped.

Europe's politically supercharged year has ended with a jolt of excitement as Germans went to the polls on Sunday. "My view is that we can use more Europe, but this has to lead to more competitiveness, more jobs and more clout for the European Union".

"Germany's liberals, who are most likely to become coalition partners, have a critical attitude towards a more integrated European Union, making it hard for Merkel to support such plans", Schout noted.

Under such a scenario, Republic on the Move! is likely to seek alliances in the Senate with other centrists and moderate Republicans and Socialists to approve Macron's business-friendly economic reforms.

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