BERLIN — Germany and France plan to present a united front on trade ahead of meetings with President Donald Trump in Washington next week, the leaders of the two countries said Thursday.
Both Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel are due to travel to the U.S. next week for separate meetings with the U.S. president. The two European leaders met in Berlin Thursday afternoon to discuss proposals to reform the European Union and to coordinate in other areas, including their approach toward the Trump administration.
“Were in a period in which there are also differences,” Merkel said in reference to the U.S. relationship, which has been strained by Trumps confrontational approach to trade and security issues.
Nonetheless, Merkel stressed that she considers the transatlantic relationship to be a “great treasure that I want to protect and preserve.”
The two leaders spoke to reporters before their planned afternoon session, which was expected to focus on European issues.
For months, the pair have stressed the importance of compromise and speed on the question of retooling European structures, in particular the eurozone. They repeated those proclamations ahead of Thursdays meeting but offered no detail on how they hoped to craft a deal to buttress the single currency without forcing Germany to take on greater financial risk, a central concern of Merkels conservatives.
Though the two sides broadly endorse proposals for eurozone-wide bank deposit insurance and a plan to establish a European monetary fund to fend off financial crises, they remain divided over key details.
The point, Macron said, wasnt to discuss “this instrument or that instrument, but rather to be clear on what our common goal is.”
The French have been pushing for more investment in the eurozone via a new budget capacity as well as a finance minister for the single currency, proposals that have been met with skepticism in Berlin.
Merkel said she believed it was still possible to reach agreement on joint proposals by the end of June.
“We need an open debate and in the end a willingness to compromise,” she said.