French President Emmanuel Macron called today for a “clear, ambitious” roadmap for EU reforms by June as he sought crucial support for his shake-up of the bloc from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Speaking after talks between the two leaders in Paris, Merkel backed the deadline, telling a joint press conference: “We have to achieve results by June.” Macron has called for a major reform drive to reinvigorate the EU, including a common eurozone finance minister and budget, but some European leaders have expressed reservations. The French president has been counting on support from Merkel, the leader of Europe’s biggest economy — but nearly six months of politico limbo in Germany as she struggled to form a coalition government forced him to put his plans on hold. Flying into Paris for her first foreign trip since she was finally granted a fourth term Wednesday at the head of a hard-fought coalition, Merkel said the Franco-German relationship remained key for Europe’s future. “We do not always have the same opinions at first but France and Germany have accomplished a lot together in the past,” she said.
“We now want to find common paths ahead,” she added. “I am determined to get there and I think we can do it. It is more necessary than ever that Europe be united in a geopolitical situation in which multilateralism is under pressure.” Macron also said it was key for the EU to find a united way forward as it confronts a host of challenges including Brexit, migration and the rise of populism reflected most recently in the Italian elections. “This is our task by June: on the eurozone, on migration policy, defence, trade, research, education and large areas that we have been able to set out — we will propose a clear, ambitious roadmap for this refoundation by June.”
He congratulated Merkel on her new government, adding: “I have to tell you that the joy was all ours when it ended well.” And he reiterated his support for Britain after the brazen assassination attempt on a Russian former double agent. “We condemn this Russian interference as everything leads us to believe that it was indeed Russia” that was behind the nerve agent attack, he told reporters.