German Chancellor Angela Merkel has outlined her strategy for EU reforms and immigration. She shared her views with the German newspaper Frankfurter AllgemeineSonntagszeitungforan interview ahead of the EU summit. She gave details on her vision for reforms in the EU, and working relationship with Italy. Merkel acknowledged the need for a joint European defence and financial system. After months of silence, gave the ‘first answer’ to Macron’s vision.
Merkel called for investment for growth and innovation measures in the Eurozone with a low budget of two-digit billion Euros, which would help in economic stability in case of crises.
Merkel said about changing the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to European Monetary Fund (EMF), a European version of the International Monetary Fund. This upgrade would see that member nation in need could borrow long or short-term loans “for a limited amount and with complete repayment”. This rescue fund should be able to gauge the economic condition in the Eurozone, assess the debt repayment ability and have means to see the capped amount borrowed is returned.
However, she did mention that the EMF should be able to provide long-term loans, for about 30 years, conditioned on reforms. This reform will be discussed at the EU summit later this month.
Talking about the changing political scenario in Italy, with a Euro-sceptic, populist coalition government in power, Merkel said she would rather try and work with an open mind that speculates about its intentions. Italy’s comments about how they are not “the slaves” of the dominant EU members France and Germany were responded with the need to focus on talking about the issues with Italy.
In accordance with the dangers that the union might face economically (which it previously did in 2009), the German Chancellor talked about strengthening the union again. She said the EU should not have to depend on other countries and “must be able to act, internally and externally, to be taken seriously by the world.”
Finally, after almost 9 months of silence, Merkel appeared to concur with their most trusted ally – France. Even though cautious in her proposal (limited budget) she appeared to agree with Macron. Last September, the French President proposed a joint budget for the European Union countries. This budget would aid during future crises and also help reduce the economic disparities between the member nations.
Macron had also called for a pan-European “rapid – reaction force”, i.e., a military intervention force and consequently a jointly funded defence mechanism. Macron and Merkel stuck to their pro-European agendas and called for increased solidarity amongst the union. However, the conservative members of Merkel’s coalition bloc fear that this increased solidarity (military intervention and finance) will cost German taxpayers while funding other member states.
About the increasing migration influx in the continent, Macron called for a common asylum policy, European asylum agency and standard EU identity documents. Macron told in September that making a place for refugees seeking refuge in Europe was their duty. Merkel responded to this with the need for border control, common asylum standards in the continent.
Employing Frontex as an independent European border police force was a suggestion by the German Chancellor. She stressed on the need for a European migration body. She called for a “flexible system” where every country makes a similar contribution to the task. As only increased flexibility will help in removing the reluctance of countries that are not accepting refugees, added Merkel.
All of these reforms will be discussed within a few weeks in an attempt to strengthen the union before the Brexit next year. Macron and Merkel want to assure Europeans of their invested, joint interests in the strengthening of the Union.
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