Merkel, Macron seek to advance their European agenda

At a meeting in Marseille on Friday French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to advance their European agenda, as they both face difficulties at home, new wires reported. Macron is hit by cabinet resignations and falling polling numbers, Merkel continues to be under pressure over her immigration policy.

Both avoided questions from journalists as they met at the 19th century Pharo palace overlooking the French port, but the body language was characteristically warm between them. "Germany and France have the same approach to problems," Merkel told reporters. "We need to continue to work together for the sovereignty of Europe."

Merkel and Macron have both backed deeper defence links between EU nations and believe that Europe must stand up for itself in the face of US President Donald Trump's aggressive nationalism. But they are at odds over the size of a proposed new budget for the eurozone, which would see more money transferred from wealthy members to poorer ones, and are both under fire from anti-immigration nationalists at home and abroad.

The "Franco-German motor" at the heart of Europe does not appear on the cusp of driving through major changes despite Macron's ambitions, analysts told AFP this week. Ronja Kempin, a senior fellow on EU and France at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said she expected "no big comprehensive reforms of the kind envisioned by Macron" before European parliament elections in May 2019.


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