German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President-elect Emmanuel Macron met on Monday in Berlin. Typically, the first foreign visit of the elected leader of an important power in political terms is deeply symbolic and practical significance. First visit demonstrates the priorities and intentions of foreign policy leader of this country. It happened at this time. Macron has shown the importance of the participation of France, together with Germany in the European Union supporting structure - the Franco-German axis.
European media interpreted the first meeting of French President Makron with Chancellor Merkel in Berlin with "cautious optimism." In the Dutch De Volkskrant wrote: "Macron and Merkel - are beautiful names that sound from both sides of the Franco-German axis." As is the case with the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and US President Barack Obama, is the type of Macron, next to which Merkel can absorb a little of its shine.
This exterior visit of the elected president of France. However, this event is mainly of interest from the point of view of Macron proposed reforms of the eurozone, which should give a new impetus to European integration and to overcome the crisis in the European Union. In recent years the European Union has faced a series of problems: the Euro and the debt crisis, migration and border crisis, terrorist attacks by fanatic Islamists, and finally the UK out of the EU. In this regard, Macron has said he will seek a "historical reconstruction of Europe and the euro zone." Everywhere he stressed that France and the European Union need to recover during his five-year presidential term. Otherwise it will open the way of "extremism" that would crush a united Europe.
"Path recovery" is through reforms that are possible through the cooperation of the two major powers of the EU - France and Germany. At a joint press conference held after the talks, Merkel and Macron pains to stress that they will cooperate. But at the same time it was noted that none of the leaders has not turned to another by name, as is customary in the European Union. While everyone was stressed considerate to each other. This is the fourth president of the French, with whom, after years 2005 deals Merkel Chancery office. The discrepancy in experience between the two leaders was so obvious that Merkel felt it necessary to warn in advance that it will not deal with the new occupant of the Elysée Palace as "all knowing", but listen carefully to him.
However, we can not say that he Macron - new to the German-French politics. In the 2012 and 2014 years, a minister in the office of President Hollande, he was actively involved in the Franco-German discussions on how to create a deeper economic integration in the eurozone core. Already it noticed that Macron appointed new prime minister of France - Eduar Filipp is fluent in German. The former French ambassador in Berlin, Filipp Eten is now becoming a senior advisor on political issues Makron. German priorities of Paris stressed exposed to the fore.
Germany itself is looking at Makron both hope and skepticism. In the German press joy at the election of the President of France Makron quickly replaced by criticism of the European Reform offered to them. For example, the German weekly Der Spiegel 13 May even came with a portrait of the new president of France on the cover and a sarcastic caption: "Dear friend. Emmanuel Macron save Europe, and Germany is to pay for it. " In his speech, the leadership of the CDU Merkel said that she is not going to change "his approach" just because a new president was elected in France. Immediately afterwards, her press secretary issued a statement that the German Government is not a supporter of eurobonds, which are supposedly going for example to promote Hollande Macron.
"Dear friend. Emmanuel Macron save Europe, and Germany must pay "
On the other hand, Merkel does not want to complicate the life of the new president of France. Makron the election comes at a time when its own influence in Europe was on the wane. In the eyes of a large number of Europeans and Germans, including Merkel remains "Chancellor budgetary savings", which opened the gates to other cultures of Europe as refugees. It is no accident that during the visit of the German leadership Makron found addressed to Paris encouraging gestures. Chancellor Merkel and her chief deputy - Finance Minister Volfgang Shoyble before important negotiations with the French president declared that they are ready to show flexibility in trying to solve the economic problems of France. The Chancellor stressed that the Germans should not be the main act, that is. e. It recognized the need to listen to the wishes of the French. To what extent is ready to go this route Merkel - is not clear.
In an interview with the weekly Der Spiegel Minister Schäuble admitted that the trade surpluses of Germany and France is only € 35-38 billion, and it is too much, in his opinion. Schäuble confirmed that there is a need for transfers between richer and poorer EU states. "The community can not exist without a strong guarantee for the weaker," - he said. In turn, Merkel at a business dinner in Düsseldorf last week said it was ready to consider the euro zone's budget for the year 2018, "to help countries that wish to be reformed." Such statements should be viewed as encouraging gestures to Paris. More balanced relationship between Germany and France could put an end to Berlin earned in recent years, the reputation of Germany as a "selfish European hegemony."
The main outcome of the first meeting Makron and Merkel was the statement by the German Chancellor that, in the opinion of Berlin, changes may be made to the basic agreement between the EU within the framework of the EU reform process. Merkel said that the person is ready to consider such changes. Macron said in response that "the change in the contract for a long time was a French taboo", but that changed after he became president. Earlier in Berlin cautious about the plans of the French president to reform the European agreement. "At the time of the change in the European treaties are unreal," - said on the eve of his visit to Berlin Makron official representative of the Ministry of Finance of Germany. Thus, there is - radical shifts in Berlin's position on key issues.
A statement about the possibility of changes in EU basic treaties with noticeable irritation was met in the United Kingdom. After all, before the referendum, Prime Minister Cameron's proposals on the reform of the European Union have repeatedly rejected the argument that the change in the basic agreement, in principle, impossible. As it turned out, it was impossible with regard to lowering the level of integration, rather than improve. In this regard, the most frank in his comments to the Franco-German meeting in Berlin made the British Financial Times. It concerns were expressed that the revival of "Franco-German leadership" in the European Union will put the UK in a "difficult situation" in terms Brexit and beyond. Strong Europe with a clear leadership has always been and will be a problem for Britain. "No one in the UK will not say this out loud, but once decided to withdraw from the EU ended its strategic interests to achieve paralysis or collapse of the European Union", - he wrote in the Financial Times.
British politicians allegedly have not yet realized what difficulties they create for election Makron. Makron dynamism, according to a British publication, is likely to lead to closer ties between France and Germany. British diplomats, hoping to play on the differences between France and Germany in the hope of providing more favorable conditions for Brexit. Now Britain has to a united front in France and Germany.
However, there are some doubts that the Berlin meeting was a determining factor in the restoration of the Franco-German axis. The fact that the election Makron in France was a factor in the inner-politics. France gave the example that the pro-European campaign can bring votes. Own election campaign in Germany has begun. And Chancellor Merkel will pass between AFD Euroskeptic right and center-left SPD left. In this case, the candidate of the SPD Martin Schulz presents itself a real pro-European candidate. Support program Makron reforms currently directly linked to the German elections, t. e., it may have only tactical significance for Merkel and the CDU leadership.
Visitor requirements Makron in Berlin affect the German elections, which will take place in four months. Compete with the CDU SPD is trying to present itself as a true ally Makron. For example, the French president at the airport in Berlin somehow met the Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD), which was a serious departure from the protocol. Gabriel himself seeks easing budget austerity policies in the EU Merkel duo - Schaeuble. In his article in Spiegel, he suggested to think again about this problem, and to be open to the Franco-German compromise on monetary union. As presented in Berlin last week, the SPD policy document entitled «Élysée 2.0: A new impetus for German-French cooperation" expressly referring back his title to the reformist Hollande efforts 2012 year, the Social Democrats returned to the idea of a tax on financial transactions in the European Union, an increase in the corporate income tax, as well as to the proposal to transform the European stability mechanism (ESM) in the European investment fund similar to the IMF. All these proposals are clearly in line with the "European idea" Makron. The Social Democrats obviously aims to attract French President on his side during the election campaign in Germany, or at least to demonstrate greater openness offers the young and "progressive" president of France.
While that is happening in the relationship Paris and Berlin should be interpreted as follows. Agreement between Macron and Merkel is the only prerequisite that in Europe there will be some movement in the direction of the reform of the euro zone. In Berlin, it was announced that Germany and France will develop a joint plan for EU reform. To this end, in July, it will be held the meeting of two Council of Ministers, which will begin the preparation of the "road map" of reforms of the European Union and the eurozone.
But it is hardly worth talking seriously about any reforms before parliamentary elections in Germany and the formation of the new German government. In this respect, the situation in Germany must finally decide sometime in November 2017 years. In the meantime, the CDU refused to initiate negotiations with Paris for eurozone budget 2018 year before France will begin large-scale reforms and reduce the level of its budget deficit to the required standards. The reforms also offered Macron France - the labor market or the education system can only be implemented if there is a presidential parliamentary majority. It is still problematic. Recall that decisive in this respect for the Makron parliamentary elections in France, scheduled for June 11 18 and 2017 years.
In practice, the current wishes of Paris to Berlin reduced to the request to reduce the cost of necessary reforms in France. After meeting with Merkel Macron has demonstrated a willingness to follow the requirements of Berlin. Perhaps it was a "home-made" concessions. Macron stressed that he does not support the introduction of Eurobonds, against which fiercely advocated especially in Berlin after his election. Instead Macron in favor of the need for "investment", by which, of course, refers to German investments in France's economy. In this context, the idea of German investment program running, including to France, can act as an economic engine for the further integration of the euro area. However, here the last word rests with the Germans, who were guided only by considerations while increasing their own profits in the export economy. In this logic in Germany until recently believed that France should live in accordance with their obligations and opportunities.
For this reason, even in France are skeptical about the Makron ambition to rebuild Europe at the cost of the reform of the socio-economic system of France for a German account. Therefore, this promise Makron in Berlin the German leadership to become a "direct, frank and constructive partner" can not be executed.