Angela Merkel welcomes Macron's 'European passion', mum on proposals

Macron appeared to respond to Lindner directly on Tuesday, saying: "I don`t have red lines, I only have horizons."

Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday welcomed the "European passion" in French President Emmanuel Macron`s ambitious EU reforms speech but said it was too soon to judge his concrete proposals.

Her spokesman Steffen Seibert said Merkel, who won a fourth term in weekend elections, looked forward to discussing ways to improve the workings of the bloc with Macron and other EU partners.

"The chancellor welcomes the fact that the French president spoke with so much verve, with so much European passion, and that he presented a lot of substance for the upcoming and essential debate about the future of Europe," Seibert said.

However, he added that it was "too early for a detailed assessment" of Macron`s calls for EU nations to more closely link their economies, governments, and militaries. 

He said Macron, Merkel and other leaders would have a chance to exchange views this week at an EU summit on the digital age starting Thursday in Estonia.

Macron presented proposals Tuesday for a post-Brexit shake-up, including bolstering the 19-member eurozone with a finance minister, budget, and parliament.

The French leader also called for the creation of a European "rapid reaction force" to work with national armies.

He is keen for Merkel`s quick endorsement of his reform agenda, but Sunday`s election in Germany left her seeking new allies to rebuild a ruling majority.

Her previous junior partners, the Social Democrats, said they would move to the opposition.

Merkel must now try to form a government likely to include the Free Democratic Party, whose leader Christian Lindner considers Macron`s call for a eurozone budget to be a "red line".

Macron appeared to respond to Lindner directly on Tuesday, saying: "I don`t have red lines, I only have horizons."

When asked about a eurozone budget, Seibert reiterated concerns long laid out by Merkel.

"When it`s about money, the question for us is always what should it be spent on," he said.

"Our guiding principle for the eurozone remains that liability (for debts) and supervision must go hand-in-hand."

He added that while Merkel had previously signaled openness to an EU finance minister, "the question remains what would he do, what can he do, what is he responsible for"
"That is exactly what we need to have a thorough debate about," he said. 

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