Merkel takes successor’s side on Europe reform vision

Merkel takes successor's side on Europe reform vision
File photo shows Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday backed key European reform ideas from her presumptive heir, including a single EU seat in the UN Security Council and a joint aircraft carrier.

Merkel was asked about an essay by her anointed successor, CDU party chief Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, that diverged from many of the EU reform ideas of French President Emmanuel Macron.

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AKK, as she is known, had argued in an article on Saturday for steps toward greater European unity, including on security, but rejected some of Macron's visions, especially on social issues.

Merkel, Germany's veteran leader who has said she will not seek re-election when her current term ends in 2021, lent her weight to many of AKK's core ideas.

Having spoken in favour of greater European defence cooperation, Merkel said that a joint aircraft carrier would be a good idea in future, even if it was not the bloc's first priority.

She also said that a single European seat in the UN Security Council was “a very good concept for the future” and would help “to gather the European voices” in the world body.

Germany has for years campaigned for a permanent seat on the UNSC alongside World War II victor nations the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France.

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“The fact that France is sceptical about a European seat at the UN is well known,” added the chancellor, speaking at a press conference with Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins.

AKK's response to recent proposals from Macron included a call for a strengthened EU border force, a pan-European climate pact and a common market for banking.

But she made other proposals that diverged from the Paris vision, suggesting that the European Parliament should sit only in Brussels and scrap its second seat in the French city of Strasbourg.

AKK also disagreed with Macron's idea for Europe-wide coordination on minimum salaries, arguing that the “Europeanisation of social services and the minimum wage would be the wrong way”.

Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert stressed at a news conference Monday that AKK's plans for Europe “harmonise with the thoughts of the chancellor”.

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