Merkel, Macron outline plans for post-Brexit EU

Elias Hubbard
September 30, 2017

EU Council President Donald Tusk said Friday he would be presenting "a political agenda in two weeks' time", after comments in recent weeks from French President Emmanuel Macron, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and others on how to the reform the bloc. A summit dinner on Thursday night was the first time European Union leaders would make a joint assessment of Juncker and Macron's visions.

Meeting before a summit dinner of European Union leaders in Estonia, Merkel and the recently elected Macron are keen for the bloc's founders to drive it forward in the wake of Brexit, though the losses she suffered in winning a fourth term on Sunday mean Europe's leading politician faces uncertain support at home. Her likely liberal partners are opposed to Macron's idea of a substantial common budget, fearful of what they consider to be careless spending habits in France and Europe's south.

"2018 is a year of opportunity for Europeans", he said. It follows elections in France and Germany, the bloc's leading powers.

"The dinner", a Macron aide said, "Was a chance to share further the Sorbonne project".

Summit chair Donald Tusk would consult governments in the coming two weeks and make proposals for how to follow up on the debate about reform at a summit in Brussels on October 19-20.

However, Tusk himself, a former premier of non-euro zone Poland, referred to a profusion of reform initiatives and added a note of caution, urging a "step-by-step" approach to "real problems".

Merkel, re-elected for a fourth term on Sunday but weakened by the rise of an insurgent eurosceptic opposition, met Macron for half an hour before dinner and, according to a French aide, welcomed his speech as "visionary" and a return of co-founder France as a driving force in the European Union project.

Macron also called for an "ambitious regulation" of digital giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook. "Important to avoid mirages in the desert on the way".

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned, however, not to set the bar too high, since changes in the bloc of half a billion people have always been tough to achieve. "There is a discussion about a European finance minister - but no one has told me what he would do".

Even though Britain plans to leave the EU by March 29, 2019, May said it cherishes a strong diplomatic and security bond among European nations, as already exemplified in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense alliance.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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