Merkel Admits to ‘Scuffles’ with Macron, Insists Franco-Germany Always Finds ‘Middle Way’
Both leaders have described their arguments as having positive outcomes for their countries and Europe.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has admitted to having arguments with French President Emmanuel Macron but stresses that the two leaders as well as the two close allies France and Germany are always able to achieve compromises.
The tandem of France and Germany, often referred to as Franco-Germany, has been the historical engine behind EU integration. Over the past couple of years, there has seemed to have relative friction between them with Macron’s eager push for wide-ranging EU reforms and Merkel’s somewhat lukewarm support for his proposals.
“We do have scuffles, and we are different characters. We also have different ideas about our roles at times, it’s always been that way,” Merkel told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung and other European newspapers, as cited by DW.
However, the German leader, whose fourth and last term as Chancellor expires in 2021, emphasized that her relationship with Macron had not deteriorated, “not at all”, and that Berlin and Paris agreed “naturally on the big issues”.
“This is how we accomplish much for Europe, even today… We always find a middle way,” the German Chancellor said, as cited by AFP and France24.
“In the core questions – where is Europe going, the economy, what responsibility do we have for the climate and for Africa – we are on a very similar wavelength,” she elaborated.
The German leader cited the “enormous progress” in defense policy where “we decided to develop a fighter plane and a tank together” as an example of deepening Franco-German cooperation.
France and Germany also launched recently a joint parliamentary assembly. However, they have fallen out somewhat on whether to keep supplyng arms to Saudi Arabia and others involved in the Yemeni Civil War.
Regarding Macron’s EU reform push, she argued there had been cases of bad timing since she was engaged in half a year of coalition building after the 2017 elections in Germany.
“I am the chancellor of a coalition government and much more committed to parliament than the French president, who is not even allowed to enter the National Assembly,” Merkel added, however, referring to the differences in the political cultures of today’s France and Germany.
In Paris, Macron responded to Merkel’s interview by acknowledging that the two had “fruitful confrontations”.
He also argued that those resulted in compromises which allowed the two nations to move forward together.
“I don’t want to believe in sterile confrontations or relations,” Macron said at a press conference.
“I believe in fruitful confrontations, which means you propose something, you see how your partner responds, and together you try to find a compromise,” the French leader said.
“What is expected of France in Europe … is to reach a compromise with Germany in order to be able to move forward. That’s our history, it’s the heart of our relationship,” he elaborated.
In her interview, German leader Merkel has also said that the EU “without a doubt, needs to reposition itself in a changing world.”
“Our achievement of longterm peace is in danger … if we don’t manage to define and justify Europe for the future… China, Russia and the US are forcing us, time and again, to find common positions,” she said, ahead of the 2019 EU elections set for May 23 – 26.
“It is indeed a time where we have to fight for our principles and fundamental values… [It’s up to] each and everyone of us to treat with care this unique structure that we call the EU,” Merkel said referring to the rise of far-right populism.
(Banner image: Emmanuel Macron on Twitter)