Merkel: British EU immigration cap would have price

Merkel: British EU immigration cap would have price

France's new President Emmanuel Macron secured backing on Monday from key ally German Chancellor Angela Merkel for his bid to shake up the European Union, despite skepticism in Berlin over his proposed reforms.

The two leaders said Mr. Macron's victory in France's presidential election could breathe new life into the Franco-German relationship, which has always been the motor for deepening the binds of European Union member states.

She said the two talked about the European asylum system, trade relations and other issues.

While Macron was greeted by a small cheering crowd at the gates of the chancellery in Berlin, his May 7 election was also followed by newspaper headlines in Germany including "How much will Macron cost us?" and "The Expensive Friend".

The visit to Germany marked Macron's first foreign trip after his inauguration on Sunday, continuing a tradition of French presidents making their first global trip to Germany.

Mr. Macron himself sounded a note of skepticism about the political obstacles standing in the way of such major changes.

"We have to think about how we can deepen and crisis-proof the European Union, and especially the eurozone", she said.

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Macron said that treaty change was "no longer a French taboo". "I will reform not because Europe asks for it, but because France needs it", he said.

Merkel's approach underlined her view that it was crucial not only for France, but for Germany, to help Macron succeed - a point that she has repeatedly stressed. Some 45 percent of voters said they trusted in centrist President Emmanuel Macron's ability to tackle France's problems, while 36 percent trusted his newly appointed prime minister, Edouard Philippe, a conservative, the Elabe poll showed.

In a sign that she was prepared to discuss far-reaching changes to. Macron insisted that the European Union should do more to protect itself against dumping.

Forces of division have been closing in on Le Pen since her electoral loss to centrist Emmanuel Macron, but she dismissed the notion that there were links between her loss and a series of events widely seen as potentially weakening her party.

Macron addressed a source of German concern by saying that he had "never defended [the idea of] Eurobonds or the mutualisation of existing debt in the eurozone" because it would make some countries less responsible. And in France, opponents of such reforms have already vowed to launch street protests against any attempt by Mr. Macron to liberalize France's highly regulated labor market. "We need more pragmatism, less bureaucracy and a Europe that protects our citizens", he added.

In a press conference after their meeting, Macron called for a "historic reconstruction" of Europe in order to counter the surge of populism, after defeating French nationalist leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of the French presidential election.

Although he won the May 7 election against National Front candidate Marine Le Pen with 66% of the vote, his party was only founded a year ago and has never held a single National Assembly seat.

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