Merkel, Macron agree on need for EU reforms

July 13 (UPI) — Speaking at a joint news conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she is open to French President Emmanuel Macron‘s calls to create a Eurozone finance minister and a European Union budget, two reforms the new French leader campaigned to create.

The announcement came after joint cabinet meetings between French and German ministers in Paris on Thursday.

Macron campaigned on promises to overhaul the EU and create tighter bonds between the member countries on the issues of finance, immigration and defense.

The proposed financial changes would require member-nations to alter the treaties that form the EU alliance, though any such changes would have been a nonstarter without the support of Germany, the EU’s largest member-state and financial contributor.

“I have nothing against a Eurozone budget [and] we can talk about creating a European finance minister,” Merkel said. “We agree that the Eurozone must be stabilized and further developed. It is in our greatest interest that all Eurozone countries are strong.”

In addition to the suggested financial changes, France and Germany announced they would enter into a joint partnership to develop a new generation of fighter jets, a deal Macron called a “revolution” in Europe’s mutual defense relationship. They also embraced creating an annual EU defense fund of 5.5 billion euros, or about $6.1 billion.

Other proposed changes to strengthen the EU would have to wait until after German elections are held in three months, Merkel said. With European leaders still reeling from last year’s surprise vote by Great Britain to leave the E.U., more needs to be done to strengthen the alliance, she said.

Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats are expected to win the German election. Merkel said a strong mandate from the German people would provide the needed political support to undertake greater reforms.

“We need a mandate from parliament, which we will seek after the elections,” she said.

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