Macron wins Merkel backing for bid to shake up Europe

European Council President Donald Tusk speaks during a debate on the conclusions of the last European Council at the European Parliament in Strasbourg eastern France

European Council President Donald Tusk speaks during a debate on the conclusions of the last European Council at the European Parliament in Strasbourg eastern France

"We share the common conviction that we can not only focus on Great Britain's departure from the European Union, but rather we have to discuss ways to deepen our cooperation among the remaining members of the European Union, among the members of the Eurozone", she said.

Pic: ReutersSupport for French President Emmanuel Macron's new centrist party is growing before legislative elections next month, a poll found on Thursday, raising the chances that he will be able to win parliamentary backing for his reform plans.

In keeping with tradition, the French president paid a visit to Merkel on his first trip overseas after taking office on Sunday, seeking to reinvigorate the Franco-German relationship and the troubled European project that it underpins. Germany, which has Europe's largest economy, has always opposed taking direct responsibility for weaker European Union countries' debts.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, an arch conservative who has come to personify Berlin's focus on fiscal rectitude, had suggested that Macron's idea of creating a budget and finance minister for the euro zone was unrealistic because it would require politically thorny changes to the European Union treaty.

"We can give the entire [European] construct a new dynamic", Merkel said, adding Europe could only progress with a "strong France" within.

Yesterday's announcement follows the appointment of Edouard Philippe, a conservative lawmaker from the Republicains party, as prime minister.

"On the other hand, Macron's style suits the chancellor".

Macron, who trounced far-right leader Marine Le Pen in an election fought on globalisation, urged a "historic reconstruction" of Europe to battle the populism sweeping the continent and widespread disillusionment with the EU.

"If we can answer the questions of why, what for and explain the usefulness of such changes, then Germany would be ready for that anyway", she said, adding that she had briefly discussed this with Macron during the meeting.

He is also relatively unknown to voters, fulfilling Mr Macron's campaign promise to repopulate French politics with new faces.

"I have never defended (the idea of) Eurobonds or the mutualisation of existing debt in the euro zone".

On Tuesday, he and Philippe were finalising a government which Macron says will supersede France's entrenched left-right divide and breathe new life into the country's jaded political landscape.

For interior minister, Macron picked Gerard Collomb, the mayor of Lyon who was one of the first Socialists to support him.

The German-speaking father of three, who writes crime novels in his spare time, was elected to parliament in 2012.

French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who won almost 20% of the vote in the first round of the presidential election, also reacted with hostility.

The German media initially embraced Macron's victory, with headlines like "France says yes to Europe", "Macron wins it for Europe", and "No Frexit" greeting readers the morning after the election victory.

"The right has just been annexed, with a prime minister taken from its ranks, from the Republicans", Mr Melenchon said.

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