France’s presidential front-runner Emmanuel Macron told CNBC he was insistent during his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday that he could reform the country and improve relations between the European economies.
“I insisted during my discussion with the (German) Chancellor about my willingness to reform our labor market, to reform our vocational training system, to reform our education and to deliver a sensible fiscal trend,” Macron told CNBC shortly after meeting Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday.
“Now the key question is to deliver (proposed reforms) so for me is first to be elected, and second to deliver but for sure, for me one of the key elements was to repeat my willingness to restore a strong confidence between France and Germany and to build on this basis a new pro-growth environment and a broader cooperation between our two countries and at the European scale,” he added.
For decades the relationship between Germany and France has been viewed as the engine which has propelled the European Union forwards. However, Berlin has become increasingly frustrated with France and accused the country of dragging its heels when it comes to fiscal discipline.
The divergence between the two key pillars of the EU was highlighted during the euro zone’s financial crisis in which Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, insisted on the implementation of strict fiscal policies whereas France complained about what it perceived as a lack of direction and unity.
Both countries are poised to host general elections this year with Macron and Merkel’s position decidedly uncertain. French citizens go to the polls in April before electing a new premier in May while Germany’s general election is scheduled for September 24.
Macron appears to have consolidated his position as favorite to win the French presidential election in May, according to latest opinion polls, although far-right and anti-EU National Front leader Marine Le Pen still leads the polls in April’s first round of the two-stage contest.