Macron says he hasn’t pushed for joint eurobonds

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PARIS (AP) Developments on Monday, May 15, about new French President Emmanuel Macron’s first full day in office (all times Central European Time).

  • 7:50 p.m.

Macron said he never pushed for jointly issued eurobonds and doesn’t favor European countries taking joint responsibility for old debts.

Macron’s message at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel was aimed at calming German concerns that he might revive an issue that divided European countries at the height of the eurozone debt crisis. Merkel’s Germany, which has Europe’s biggest economy, has vehemently opposed taking direct responsibility for weaker eurozone countries’ debts.

Macron added, however, that “what I know is that we have investments to make (in Europe), and so we have to work on investment mechanisms for the future.”

  • 7:40 p.m.

Merkel said Germany was prepared to talk about treaty changes if they were needed to implement reforms in the European Union.

Speaking at Macron’s side, Merkel said European countries must not think that the union should never make treaty changes.

“A European Union that behaves this way would be vulnerable from every corner of the world,” she said.

But she also made clear that treaty changes were not a topic immediately on the table.

“First we need to work on what we want to change, and then if it turns out it needs a treaty change, then we’re prepared to do that,” she said.

Macron reiterated that the EU needs a road map for change, and he would also be prepared to change treaties if necessary.

  • 7:25 p.m.

French President Macron said he would work closely with German Chancellor Merkel on that “road map” of reforms for the European Union and the eurozone.

Speaking at the side of the German leader in Berlin, Macron said they need to work on “deep reforms that are necessary and need common work.”

Macron said in addition he planned to push for economic reforms in France in the coming months in order to fight the country’s high unemployment rate.

He said he would implement a reform agenda at home “not because Europe requests it, but because France needs it.”

He said the government he was appointing on Tuesday would start working on the issue.

  • 6:20 p.m.

Merkel called for a “new dynamism” in German-French relations, saying the two countries’ interests were closely tied together.

Merkel told Macron during his first foreign visit as president that “Europe will only do well if there is a strong France, and I am committed to that.”

Merkel said it was an honor that Macron chose to visit Berlin during his first full day in office, and said the countries’ ministers would meet after an upcoming French legislative vote.

She said the two talked about the European asylum system, trade relations, and other issues.

“We each represent the interests of our own countries, but the interests of Germany are naturally closely tied to the interests of France,” Merkel said.

  • 5:45 p.m.

Merkel welcomed Macron to the chancellery in Berlin with a handshake ahead of a military honors ceremony.

Macron traveled to Berlin a day after being sworn in, continuing a tradition of French presidents making their first foreign trip to Germany. He became the fourth French president to meet with Merkel in her nearly 12 years as German leader.

A large group of onlookers, some carrying European flags, stood outside the chancellery as Macron arrived.

Germany and France have traditionally been the motor of European integration, but the relationship has become increasingly lopsided over recent years as France struggled economically.

Macron earlier met Merkel when he visited Berlin in March as a candidate.

  • 4:45 p.m.

The far-right National Front party of Marine Le Pen, who was beaten handily by Macron in the French presidential election, joined the criticism of Macron’s appointment of Edouard Philippe as prime minister.

Nicolas Bay, the party’s secretary general, said Macron’s government was becoming “a synthesis of the worst of the right and the worst of the left.”

Philippe, from the mainstream right, and his Socialist predecessor, Bernard Cazeneuve, had only kind words for each other at their handover of the prime minister’s office.

Philippe praised Cazeneuve’s “quite exceptional” ministerial career and his “constant elegance.”

  • 4:05 p.m.

Philippe began moving into his new offices as France’s prime minister, meeting at the Matignon palace with its previous occupant, his predecessor Cazeneuve.

Cazeneuve, a Socialist, and Philippe, from the mainstream-right Republicans party, shook hands warmly. The red carpet was rolled out for Philippe, 46, named by new President Macron to form his first government.

Cazeneuve was the final prime minister of former President Francois Hollande, Macron’s predecessor, holding the job for five months.

  • 3:40 p.m.

France’s far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, hoping to turn his strong showing in the presidential campaign into seats in parliament, reacted with hostility to Philippe’s appointment as prime minister.

Noting that Philippe comes from the right of French politics, Melenchon said: “The right has just been annexed, with a prime minister taken from its ranks, from the Republicans.”

Melenchon got nearly 20 percent of the vote in the first round of the presidential election. Voters go to the polls again in June to elect the 577 lawmakers in the National Assembly. Melenchon urged them not to give a parliamentary majority to new President Macron and Philippe.

  • 3:15 p.m.

New Prime Minister Philippe is close to Alain Juppe, a former prime minister who campaigned for the French presidency but was beaten in a primary.

Reacting to Philippe’s appointment by Macron, Juppe called him “a man of great talent” with “all the qualities to handle the difficult job.”

Philippe served as Juppe’s campaign spokesman during the Republicans party primary. When Juppe was beaten, Philippe switched his support to Francois Fillon for the French presidency but then quit the campaign when prosecutors started investigating allegations that Fillon’s family benefited illegally from cushy taxpayer-funded jobs.

The mayor of Le Havre since 2010, Philippe previously worked as a director of public affairs for French nuclear group Areva from 2007-2010 and as a lawyer from 2004-2007 with New York City-based international law firm Debevoise and Plimpton LLP.

  • 2:55 p.m.

Macron’s appointment of Philippe, a relatively unknown 46-year-old lawmaker, as prime minister, was an effort to make good on campaign promises to repopulate French politics with new faces.

Alexis Kohler, Macron’s new general secretary at the presidential Elysee Palace, made the announcement.

In addition to being the mayor of the Normandy port of Le Havre, Philippe is an author of political thrillers. He’s also a member of the mainstream-right Republicans party that was badly battered by Macron’s victory in the presidential campaign.

Philippe’s appointment ticks several boxes for the 39-year-old Macron, France’s youngest president, who took power on Sunday. Philippe’s age reinforces the generational shift in France’s corridors of power and the image of youthful vigor that Macron was cultivating.

Philippe could also attract other Republicans to Macron’s cause as the centrist president works to piece together a majority in parliament to pass his promised economic reforms.

  • 1:40 p.m.

German Chancellor Merkel said she had no intention of telling France what to do as new President Macron tries to revive his country’s economy.

Merkel was asked before a meeting with Macron whether she would recommend he conduct labor market reforms similar to Germany’s more than a decade ago. “I am the last person who is going to come and say what France has to do,” she replied.

Merkel said it was important for French people, particularly the young, to have more hope of jobs. She added that there have been many proposals over the years for the development of the 19-nation eurozone.

“I will of course discuss this with him, and I will say (we are) open to getting something done together,” she said.

  • 1:35 p.m.

Merkel said Macron’s election offered an opportunity to bring new dynamism to Europe.

Merkel said ahead of her meeting with Macron in Berlin later in the day that “Germany will in the long term only do well if Europe does well, and the election of the new French president offers us the opportunity to bring dynamism to European development.”

The German leader added “we will do everything to develop good initiatives with the new president, Emmanuel Macron.”

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