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ANGELA MERKEL

Macron to hold talks with Merkel in Berlin on first day of new job

Emmanuel Macron will head to Berlin on Monday - the day after he is inaugurated as the new president of France - to hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Macron to hold talks with Merkel in Berlin on first day of new job
Photo: AFP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will host Emmanuel Macron for talks in Berlin on Monday, a day after the new French
president is due to take office.

Their meeting will take place “late afternoon on Monday”, said Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert.

The German leader had welcomed Macron's win in France, saying he “carries the hopes of millions of French people and also many in Germany and across Europe.”

President-elect Macron was welcomed by Merkel when he visited Berlin in March whilst on the campaign trail.

The 39-year-old had stressed his “common ground” with the German chancellor on economic reform, fiscal discipline and Europe's future.

The former economy minister had also he wanted to strengthen ties with Germany.
 
“I haven't forgotten I am only here as a candidate but I saw a lot of common ground with the chancellor, as well as a lot with President (Frank-Walter) Steinmeier,” he had told reporters outside her chancellery after whirlwind talks during his one-day visit.
 
The symbolism of Macron meeting Merkel on his first full day as president won't be lost on the far right Marine Le Pen who had criticized Macron for being pro-EU and said if he won then France will remain under Merkel's rule.
 
“In any case, France will be governed by a woman, either me or Angela Merkel,” Le Pen said during the live election debate.
 
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Thursday underlined common ground with Macron in Germany and France's bid to bolster the European Union, which has been buffeted by Britain's decision to quit the bloc.
 
Schaeuble said both he and Macron are in favour of creating a parliament for the 19-country eurozone.
 
“A eurozone parliament could be set up, made up of European parliamentarians, which would have consultative powers” for moving forward the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), Schaeuble said.
 
When Nicolas Sarkozy was president of France alongside Merkel the pair were dubbed “Merkozy” due to their efforts to solve the euro debt crisis.
 
When François Hollande took over from Sarkozy the new name “Merklande” was used but it didn't really stick.
 
But if Macron succeeds in forging ties with the German chancellor to tackle issues such as the refugee crisis and the threat caused by Brexit, perhaps it won't be long until the press are talking about “Merkron” or “Macrel”?.

 

POLITICS

Sleep, seaside, potato soup: What will Merkel do next?

 After 16 years in charge of Europe's biggest economy, the first thing Angela Merkel wants to do when she retires from politics is take "a little nap". But what about after that?

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes and smiles at a 2018 press conference in Berlin.
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes at a 2018 press conference in Berlin. Aside from plans to take "a little nap" after retiring this week, she hasn't given much away about what she might do next. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

The veteran chancellor has been tight-lipped about what she will do after handing over the reins to her successor Olaf Scholz on December 8th.

During her four terms in office, 67-year-old Merkel was often described as the most powerful woman in the world — but she hinted recently that she will not miss being in charge.

“I will understand very quickly that all this is now someone else’s responsibility. And I think I’m going to like that situation a lot,” she said during a trip to Washington this summer.

Famous for her stamina and her ability to remain fresh after all-night meetings, Merkel once said she can store sleep like a camel stores water.

But when asked about her retirement in Washington, she replied: “Maybe I’ll try to read something, then my eyes will start to close because I’m tired, so I’ll take a little nap, and then we’ll see where I show up.”

READ ALSO: ‘Eternal’ chancellor: Germany’s Merkel to hand over power
READ ALSO: The Merkel-Raute: How a hand gesture became a brand

‘See what happens’
First elected as an MP in 1990, just after German reunification, Merkel recently suggested she had never had time to stop and reflect on what else she might like to do.

“I have never had a normal working day and… I have naturally stopped asking myself what interests me most outside politics,” she told an audience during a joint interview with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“As I have reached the age of 67, I don’t have an infinite amount of time left. This means that I want to think carefully about what I want to do in the next phase of my life,” she said.

“Do I want to write, do I want to speak, do I want to go hiking, do I want to stay at home, do I want to see the world? I’ve decided to just do nothing to begin with and see what happens.”

Merkel’s predecessors have not stayed quiet for long. Helmut Schmidt, who left the chancellery in 1982, became co-editor of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a popular commentator on political life.

Helmut Kohl set up his own consultancy firm and Gerhard Schroeder became a lobbyist, taking a controversial position as chairman of the board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

German writer David Safier has imagined a more eccentric future for Merkel, penning a crime novel called Miss Merkel: Mord in der Uckermark  that sees her tempted out of retirement to investigate a mysterious murder.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel forms her trademark hand gesture, the so-called “Merkel-Raute” (known in English as the Merkel rhombus, Merkel diamond or Triangle of Power). (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)
 

Planting vegetables
Merkel may wish to spend more time with her husband Joachim Sauer in Hohenwalde, near Templin in the former East Germany where she grew up, and where she has a holiday home that she retreats to when she’s weary.

Among the leisure activities she may undertake there is vegetable, and especially, potato planting, something that she once told Bunte magazine in an interview in 2013 that she enjoyed doing.

She is also known to be a fan of the volcanic island of D’Ischia, especially the remote seaside village of Sant’Angelo.

Merkel was captured on a smartphone video this week browsing the footwear in a Berlin sportswear store, leading to speculation that she may be planning something active.

Or the former scientist could embark on a speaking tour of the countless universities from Seoul to Tel Aviv that have awarded her honorary doctorates.

Merkel is set to receive a monthly pension of around 15,000 euros ($16,900) in her retirement, according to a calculation by the German Taxpayers’ Association.

But she has never been one for lavish spending, living in a fourth-floor apartment in Berlin and often doing her own grocery shopping.

In 2014, she even took Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to her favourite supermarket in Berlin after a bilateral meeting.

So perhaps she will simply spend some quiet nights in sipping her beloved white wine and whipping up the dish she once declared as her favourite, a “really good potato soup”.

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