French EU bridge to US


French President Emmanuel Macron attends the annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, France, July 14, 2017. 

Macron, Merkel to create new EU ‘road map’

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French President Emmanuel Macron hosted his US counterpart Donald Trump as a guest of honour during Bastille Day celebrations in Paris on July 14 as the French leader could act as a bridge between the increasingly isolated Trump and the European Union.

Macron, who has won impressive presidential and parliamentary election, appears to be one of the most secure French presidents recently and has inspired fresh hope in EU solidarity.

Despite getting off to a bumpy start, Trump and Macron have tried to build their relationship and the US President’s visit to Paris on July 13-14 is a step in that direction.

“Great conversations with President @EmmanuelMacron and his representatives on trade, military and security,” Trump tweeted on July 14. “It was a great honor to represent the United States at the magnificent #BastilleDay parade. Congratulations President @EmmanuelMacron!,” Trump wrote a little earlier.

On July 13, Macron and his wife, Brigitte, dined with Trump and his wife, Melania, in a highly rated restaurant at the Eiffel Tower.

Macron has already taken a softer line toward Trump than some of his EU counterparts, notably German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

However, Macron has voiced his strong opposition to Trump’s exit from the Paris Climate Agreement. Trump’s rejection of the 2015 Paris accord and his America First trade position has alienated most European leaders. But on July 13, Trump held the door open to a reversal of his decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate accord.

“Yeah, I mean, something could happen with respect to the Paris Accord.  We’ll see what happens. But we will talk about that over the coming period of time. And if it happens, that will be wonderful.  And if it doesn’t, that will be okay, too. But we’ll see what happens,” Trump said in response to a journalist’s question at a press conference on July 13, as posted on the White House website. “But we did discuss many things today, including the ceasefire in Syria.  We discussed the Ukraine.  We discussed a lot of different topics.  We briefly hit on the Paris Accord.  And we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.

In his opening remarks, Trump he discussed with Macron how France and the US can strengthen their vital security partnerships. “We just had a meeting with our generals and our representatives, and it went very well. France has excellent counterterrorism capabilities. The French troops are serving bravely in places like Mali to defeat these forces of murder and destruction. The United States and our allies strengthen our commitments to defeat terrorism,” the US President said.

In his opening remarks, Macron said he agreed with Trump to implement free and fair trade, and in the field — and this is the G20, in Hamburg, also expressed in terms of sensitivity. “We want to work together in order to implement some efficient measures to tackle dumping anywhere it is taking place in all the fields, by sharing the information that we have and making sure that both the European Union and the United States can take the necessary measures in order to protect within the context of free trade, but of fair, free trade that we can protect all over sectors of activities where we are active,” Macron said.

“We then had a long discussion which enabled us to cover all of the topics of international policies and the challenges — the security challenges for the people as well.  When it comes to fighting terrorism, from day one I can say that we’ve seen eye to eye, and we are strongly determined to take any necessary measures in order to root out terrorism and to eradicate it no matter where, in particular the narrative on the Internet.  We agreed to strengthen our action and our cooperation in fighting against propaganda,” the French President said.

“Next, climate. Well, here we know what our disagreements are. We have expressed them on a number of occasions. But I think it is important that we can continue to talk about it. I very much respect the decision taken by President Trump. He will work upon implementing his campaign promises.  And as far as I’m concerned, I remain attached to the Paris Accord, and we’ll make sure that, step-by-step, we can do everything, which is in the accord,” Macron said.

On July 13, Merkel said she wants to develop closer cooperation with EU-ally France.

“I believe that we have shown shortly after the new government here was installed that we are ready to activate Franco-German relations with a new impetus,” Merkel said in Paris during a joint news conference with Macron.

Defence, enterprise and education reportedly top the list for joint measures discussed during the Franco-German Ministerial Council meeting in Paris.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, when the two leaders met in May, the day after Macron’s inauguration as French president, they pledged to create a new “road map” for medium-term cooperation and for reviving the EU.

The governments are also working on developing a common line on European Commission proposals for bringing tax regimes into alignment across the bloc. Macron said they had also agreed on a “project of fiscal convergence for enterprises”.

Merkel acknowledged tax convergence was “not a simple subject, it is even a thorny one,” but it would “permit the common market to develop”.

After their meeting, the two leaders said concrete details of their proposals on eurozone governance would be “developed later”. But they “already recognise that the current architecture of the eurozone presents persistent faults, and they share a desire to envisage new initiatives to reinforce it”.

According to DW, the French president has also proposed creating a finance minister, parliament and a common budget for the eurozone, which would require changes to EU treaties.

Responding to fears that German taxpayers may have to shoulder the burden of shared debts, Macron said he was not in favour of turning national debts into a single pool of eurozone debt.

“Germany… has a strong economy, but it has demographic weaknesses, economic and trade imbalances with its neighbours and shared responsibilities to give the euro area the future it deserves,” said Macron after the meeting.

As regards defence, Germany and France agreed to work together on a series of projects. These include a long-term replacement for their current fleets of fighter planes, a joint indirect fire artillery system and a new “major ground combat system”.

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