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Macron sets out ambitious blueprint for European Union reform including a joint budget

Macron sets out ambitious blueprint for European Union reform including a joint budget”

Cooperation from Germany - the other half of the so-called Franco-German motor at the heart of the bloc - is essential, though Macron will also need to convince other European partners.

He was speaking two days after the German election in which Merkel's conservative CDU/CSU bloc scored its worst result since 1949, limiting her freedom to manoeuvre on Europe. He said the single-currency eurozone should have its own budget and finance minister.

Macron also proposed a shared European military intervention force and defense budget.

The far-right nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which is very much against further European Union integration, also entered parliament for the first time since the Second World War.

Macron said he hoped his ideas would be taken into account in Germany's coalition building negotiations.

"The only path that assures our future is the rebuilding of a Europe that is sovereign, united and democratic", the former investment banker and philosophy student said, flanked by a French and a European Union flag.

"The debate launched by the French President is being followed with some exasperation in the Chancellor's office", the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper wrote at the weekend.

As far as the prospect of a eurozone budget, Darvas called it a "no-go idea".

Her alliance is still the largest bloc in the Bundestag, but to build a working majority she will likely have to form a coalition with the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), who are opposed to many of Macron's ideas.

"Even before the elections, Merkel was sceptical about the idea of a common budget, referring only to the possibility of a small budget", he said.

If the FDP becomes a coalition partner, it will be hard for Merkel to realize such a move, said Darvas.

Whereas the Greens said on Sunday night that a "stronger Europe" was a priority for the party, the FDP is averse to further steps to integrate policies at European level.

The FDP would not be the only hard ally in Merkel's coalition.

"The AfD's strong performance in combination with the Liberals and the weakening of the two middle parties lead to more fragmentation and a more hard decision-making process", said Schout.

For other European Union member states like the Netherlands, who view with caution the revival of the Franco-German axis and the prospect of further deepening the 27-member bloc post Brexit, "it would be easier now to rely on Germany", noted Schout.

Over the next four years, Merkel will also have to cope with a more confrontational opposition force in the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a eurosceptic, anti-immigration party that rode a wave of public anger after her decision to open Germany's borders to hundreds of thousands of migrants in 2015.



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