"It is a great honour for us that your first trip has brought you to Germany," said Chancellor Angela Merkel, thanking Emmanuel Macron for making the trip to Berlin only one day after his inauguration. When they met the press together on Monday evening at the Federal Chancellery, Angela Merkel pointed to the exceptional importance of the friendly and long-standing relations between the two countries.
At critical times for the European Union in particular it is important to take the right decisions together, said the Chancellor, and stressed that she is very much aware of this special responsibility.
The interests of France and Germany are inextricably linked, she added. "Germany can only do well in the long term, if Europe does well. And Europe will only do well if we have a strong France. I am committed to ensuring this, and I can say that this is true of the entire German government," said Angela Merkel.
The French and Dutch elections have made it clear to a great many people "how valuable Europe is" and how important Franco-German relations are. "We should make the most of this crucially important moment in history," said the Chancellor.
Angela Merkel specified three priorities for her talks with the new French President. Firstly, she mentioned topical European issues including the Posting of Workers Directive, the new European asylum system and trade policy matters. Securing jobs is of the greatest possible importance for Germany, she said and "perhaps even more so" for France.
Secondly, the Chancellor pointed to bilateral relations and announced that she and President Macron had agreed to revitalise direct relations.
"We have a lot that we can build on, but we can lend our relations new drive and that is just what we intend to do," she declared. She announced that the Franco-German Council of Ministers will meet in July. "We want to use this platform to present new projects that can give our cooperation a new boost."
Angela Merkel and her French guest also agreed to elaborate a roadmap for EU projects in the medium term. It is not only a question of dealing with Brexit, she said. What is important in particular is how to make the existing European Union, especially the eurozone, stronger and more resilient to crises. Franco-German projects, especially in the field of fiscal policy, could provide the necessary impetus in this context, she added.
Angela Merkel also considers common European defence and foreign policy to be important. This could make Europe more visible to a great many people. And we must cut through red tape, she said. "Many of our decisions are too slow and too cumbersome and thus, in the eyes of many people, not effective enough," declared the Chancellor.
It is in Germany’s interests that Emmanuel Macron be successful, said federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert on Monday at the government press conference. The German government will endeavour to ensure good and trusting cooperation with the new French President and his team. The partnership with France "is, was and will remain an essential pillar of German policy" underlined Steffen Seibert at the government press conference on 12 May.
The basis of cooperation, in the view of the German government, is what the 27 remaining EU member states together undertook only a few weeks ago in Rome at the summit meeting to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome. "We want a secure and safe Europe that can protect its people. We want a socially just Europe. And we want an economically strong Europe. Those are the foundations for our joint work within the European Union," declared the government spokesperson. "We see Germany and France as a couple who have the responsibility and the obligation to further develop their relations also in the interests of Europe as a whole."
The Chancellor praised Emmanuel Macron for his stance on a united and open European Union during the election campaign. In a telephone conversation Angela Merkel congratulated him on his victory. Emmanuel Macron took office as French President on Sunday, taking over from his predecessor François Hollande.