French President Macron heads to Berlin for his first official foreign visit

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron
GETTYAngela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron met to discuss strengthening the EU

20 May, 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he will implement economic reforms in France.

Travelling to the German capital to meet the veteran leader in his first official trip overseas, Macron used the opportunity to call for a "historic reconstruction" of Europe, the German news website reported.

Faced with the rise of populism and Brexit, the arrival of Macron to the presidency, (but even more so the elimination of Europhobic candidate for the extreme right candidate Marine Le Pen), has undeniably provoked relief in Berlin, as in many European capitals. She said she was personally prepared to make the case for such a change.

"I happened to stroll through Berlin yesterday - for a different reason - and it was a wonderful spring day, as we said there was magic in the air".

"And the election of the new French president offers us here the possibility to bring dynamism into the development of Europe".

Mr Macron's trip to Berlin highlighted his pro-European politics and desire to work with Mrs Merkel on what he says must become "a more efficient Europe, a more democratic Europe, a more political Europe".

"We need to re-establish the European project", said the French president, who added that for this change to occur it is necessary to "repair the trust" in the "historic relationship" between Paris and Berlin, while Merkel spoke of giving the two countries a "new dynamic" and a "new push".

Two other polls published on Thursday by Harris Interactive had Macron's party leading with 32 percent, up three points since May 11 and six points since May 7.

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The Macron-Merkel meeting came just hours after the French president nominated Edouard Philippe, the 46-year-old Mayor of Le Havre, to be his prime minister.

Macron's charm offensive went beyond symbolism, on Monday he appointed France's former Ambassador to Germany, as his diplomatic adviser.

Macron said he does not favor European countries taking joint responsibility for old debts and that he has never pushed for jointly issued eurobonds.

However, he signaled readiness to look at sharing future burdens.

Marking the historic closeness of Franco-German relations, Macron said the countries would work constructively to deliver a stronger EU. Any reforms would likely still have to wait until after September, when the German leader faces re-election.

Merkel said she was open to his proposal for a "buy European act", to favour EU companies bidding for public contracts inside the EU.

While some in the Republicans fumed at Philippe's appointment, seeing it as a betrayal, others urged the party to accept Macron's "outstretched hand".

Christophe Castaner, Mr Macron's campaign spokesman, said on Sunday this was the kind of tough choice that would have to be made in Mr Macron's inner circle now that the battle for the presidential Elysee Palace was won.

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