Macron says Europe must ‘take more responsibility for its defence’ while visiting Berlin

French president appears to renew calls for a continent-wide army during appearance alongside German chancellor Angela Merkel

Colin Drury
Sunday 18 November 2018 21:18
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The European leaders speak to reporters in Berlin
The European leaders speak to reporters in Berlin

Emmanuel Macron has said Europe must “take more responsibility for its defence and security”, while visiting Berlin for a remembrance service to victims of war and dictatorships.

The French president – speaking alongside German chancellor Angela Merkel – warned the continent could not influence global politics if its “content to play a secondary role on the international scene".

He added that the two countries were “invested with this obligation not to allow the world to slide into chaos”.

The comments, made on Sunday, could be seen as a swipe at US president Donald Trump who reacted angrily last week to Mr Macron’s suggestions Europe should develop its own army in order to be less reliant on America.

Ms Merkel has offered theoretical long-term support for the idea of such an army.

The remarks came as the two leaders used the visit to also discuss issues including migration, fixing the euro currency, and taxing digital companies.

It emerged they have struck an agreed position on a common budget for EU countries that use the shared euro – something Mr Macron has persistently pushed for. German finance minister Olaf Scholz told the DPA news agency the proposal will be presented to European finance ministers on Monday.

The size of the budget — quoted by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire as around €25bn — is far below what the French leader had proposed.

But the compromise underlines Germany’s reluctance to sign off on anything which might be perceived as transferring taxpayer money from its own economy to less fiscally stable countries such as Italy or Greece.

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A European summit in December is also now expected to rubber stamp limited proposals to strengthen the euro currency with a series of measures including upgrading the eurozone's bailout fund and a long-term road map for introducing EU-level deposit insurance.

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