Merkel voices support for Macron's proposed European defence force

Italy's Debt Burden       More than 600 billion euros of Italy's debt matures in the next three years.                      Source Bloomberg

Italy's Debt Burden More than 600 billion euros of Italy's debt matures in the next three years. Source Bloomberg

Earl Howe, the junior defence minister, said last month: "It will help to achieve what we are looking for, which is a deep and special partnership with our European colleagues in defence and security".

France's presidential Elysée Palace hailed Merkel's remarks in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung (FAS) weekly newspaper as a move "toward the French view" on ways to strengthen the eurozone and European Union.

The chancellor also said she backed an investment budget for the euro zone, which would be in the low two-digit billions of euros that would be introduced step by step and evaluated over time to address structural weaknesses of member states.

In her message of congratulation to Conte, a law professor with no political experience picked to head the coalition, Merkel said that she looked forward "to continuing and to further deepening our close partnership", reminding him that "Italy and Germany have close and friendly relations in all areas - political, economic and cultural".

The comments suggest a new willingness by Ms. Merkel to engage with Mr. Macron's proposals, despite signs this year that the chancellor would cede to domestic pressure to keep any eurozone overhauls to a minimum.

The two countries are expected to agree a joint road map for European Union reforms later this month.

Merkel refrained from outright criticism of Trump in her comments to the newspaper, but noted that the USA has withdrawn from multilateral agreements and imposed new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, including from Europe.

The proposals, to be presented at an EU leaders' summit later this month, were welcomed by the European Commission, the EU's executive body.

She backed the step-by-step introduction of a euro zone investment budget in the low double-digit billions of euros, saying this could be housed within the European Union budget or outside.

She said that the ESM has to become a European Monetary Fund, with similar instruments to those in the International Monetary Fund's hands.

Merkel's comments were seen by the Elysee as an "first response" to a speech given by Macron at the Sorbonne University in September in which he laid out his plans for a wide-ranging reform of the EU.

However, Merkel's composure has not necessarily been reflected elsewhere in Germany.

Merkel also called for European cooperation on migration and asylum programs. She suggested the turbulence in Italian politics resulted in part from weaknesses in the EU's current asylum processes, and called for a common system for processing asylum seekers and a more powerful border police force. Additionally they need to carry sanctions in opposition to Russian Federation and for Italy to maneuver nearer to its president, Vladimir V. Putin, who as soon as stated he didn't have to meddle within the Italian elections as a result of it was all going his means.

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