France's new president, Emmanuel Macron, has called for a historic reconstruction of Europe, saying it is the only reaction to fight populism. Speaking in Berlin on the first full day of his presidency, he was joined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said the pair had a joint conviction that they needed to deepen the European Union.
Both said they would work together more closely on defense, Euro zone reform and reducing bureaucracy. Mrs. Merkel pointed out the EU depended on France being strong, and that she and Mr. Macron had a joint conviction that we are not only going to deal with the British exit from the European Union, but we also need to deepen the EU.
She also made her most positive comments yet about Euro zone reforms mooted by Mr. Macron, saying it may be possible to change EU treaties as would be required to enact them.
From the German point of view, it's possible to change the treaty if it makes sense, she said. I would be ready to do this, but first we will work on what we want to reform.
But some of Macron's ideas about economic reform have raised eyebrows in Berlin - in an election year Angela Merkel won't risk anything which voters might perceive as a German bailout of struggling member states.
And, despite the smiles on Monday, president Macron has yet to prove himself. Berlin expects him to succeed where others have failed; deliver his election promise and kick start the French economy.
Macron wants to create a common Euro zone budget, parliament and finance minister. He denied being in favor of making all countries that use the Euro liable for other individual countries' existing debt.