Macron determined to engage Germany in debate on Europe reforms

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he is determined to engage Germany in a debate that he wants to push forward on European reforms, despite a cool initial response from Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“I believe that, if you have a vision, you shouldn’t go to the doctor but you should open a debate,” Macron said in Frankfurt, where he was due to meet Merkel and attend the opening of an annual book fair.

Macron’s visit is his first to Germany since Merkel narrowly won an election last month, losing votes to a far-right party that drew support from people angered by an influx of more than a million migrants over the past two years.

The 39-year-old French president, in a speech two days after the German vote, set out an ambitious vision for Europe, calling for tighter cooperation on defence and immigration, and for a common euro zone budget.

Merkel, still to begin what promise to be difficult talks on building a new coalition government, has cautioned that reforming the euro zone should not be the top priority and the debate should be more inclusive.

Macron was taking part in a panel discussion at Frankfurt’s Goethe University with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the Green politician best known for his role in the Paris student protests of 1968, and Gilles Kepel, a political scientist and expert on the Middle East.