Macron says 'happy' Merkel coalition deal in sight

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French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that he was "satisfied and happy" that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives had reached a deal with the Social Democrats towards forming a coalition.

"I am happy and satisfied that Mrs Merkel can advance towards a coalition government that will be useful and which is awaited by Europe and France," Macron said during a press conference with visiting Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

He said the terms of the deal were "more favourable" for his vision of a reformed European Union than a separate agreement that was discussed -- then abandoned -- between Merkel's conservatives and the pro-business FDP party in November.

Macron continued to argue in favour of a new budget for the eurozone, but said it was too soon to say whether this would be included in the final coalition deal.

Macron said he and Kurz, a conservative who formed a government with the far right in December, had found many "points of convergence" during their talks in Paris.

Kurz, which some German newspapers have dubbed the "anti-Macron", is expected to resist some of the French president's initiatives to deepen European integration.

"Europe should concentrate on the essential questions, such as defence and security policy, and reinforce its action on those fronts," Kurz told the Le Figaro newspaper on Friday before arriving.

Underlining his wariness about further federalism, he added that subjects "of lesser importance" should be left to national and regional governments.

Kurz's visit to Paris is one of his first abroad since becoming the world's youngest leader at age 31.


© 2018 AFP

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