Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron signalled their readiness to delay Brexit for a short period. "If the UK needs a little more time, we won’t refuse them that," said Angela Merkel at a joint press conference with Emmanuel Macron. Naturally, the aim is to achieve an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU. "We regret this step, but it is reality, and now we have to find a good solution."
Preparations for the European Council meeting
Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron used their meeting primarily to prepare for the meeting of the European Council scheduled for 21 and 22 March in Brussels. This year will be crucially important in determining the way forward, said the Chancellor, "even just because a new cycle will begin within the European Union following the elections to the European Parliament". Shared responses are needed to the changed geopolitical situation, to migration, and to the challenges of digitalisation and climate change. "In our experience, Europe is able to act when France and Germany come forward with common ideas," said the Chancellor.
At the meeting of the European Council in March, the EU’s future industrial policy is also to be discussed. "We have a number of guidelines that are constantly being adopted, but which do not necessarily provide a coherent answer to the need to preserve our economic and innovative strength," explained Angela Merkel. The Treaty of Aachen made it clear that Germany and France intend to cooperate extremely closely in the field of artificial intelligence, springboard innovations, and strategic projects for Europe.
Implementing the next steps of the Treaty of Aachen
On 22 January the Chancellor and the French President signed the Treaty of Aachen at an official ceremony, thus renewing the foundations for Franco-German cooperation. Regular consultation and coordination on foreign-policy matters and questions of the agenda for European Council meetings for instance, is the expression of this cooperation, explained Angela Merkel. The two nations now want to take the first steps to implement the Treaty of Aachen. This will include ministers from France attending German Cabinet meetings and vice versa, which will take cooperation to the next level.