June 7, 2018 / 1:07 PM / 5 months ago

Merkel ready to compromise with France on euro zone reform

BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday Germany must be ready to compromise with France on euro zone reform, signalling her readiness to negotiate three weeks before a European Union summit at which the bloc’s future will be on the agenda.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Aachen, Germany May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

“I think we will come towards each other with reforms to the currency union, but these reforms to the currency union are really not the only reforms we need,” she said, mentioning foreign, asylum, migration, development and security policies.

“With these reforms, it will only work with compromises,” Merkel added in a discussion on Europe hosted by German broadcaster WDR.

In a weekend newspaper interview, Merkel offered her most detailed response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s ideas for reforming Europe, seeking to avert a damaging rift with Paris at a time of anxiety over Italy and growing transatlantic tensions.

Merkel has been torn for months between compromising with Macron and satisfying conservative hardliners at home who accuse the French leader of seeking a “transfer union” in which countries that refuse to reform would be rewarded with German money.

“I personally don’t see such extensive pots of funds that should be managed at intergovernmental level as the French proposals envisage,” she told the WDR event.

“But I can well imagine that we must do something - and something more than for countries that are not in the euro - for the convergence of the euro zone.”

Macron was elected last May on a promise to overhaul the EU. He has called for the euro zone to have its own budget and finance minister, and for the currency bloc’s rescue fund, the ESM, to be turned into a mechanism for helping member states pre-empt threats of financial instability.

But Merkel, whose political capital is depleted after she lost support in last September’s national election, faces fierce resistance from her conservatives to any reforms that would see German taxpayers assume liability for other countries’ debts.

Writing by Paul Carrel, editing by Thomas Escritt and John Stonestreet

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