Merkel and Macron: Europe gaining momentum?

German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron met on Tuesday at the chancellor's retreat Schloss Meseberg, where they agreed on reforms for the EU - including a Eurozone budget. Commentators note that the meeting was overshadowed by Germany's row over refugee policy, but draw different conclusions as to the impact this will have on the Franco-German motor.

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Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Just German narrowmindedness and pettiness

A Eurozone budget of just a few billion - for Deutschlandfunk the results of the long-awaited talks are sobering:

“The CDU/CSU and SPD promised a new start and more money for Europe. ... And now? Everything is being overshadowed by Germany's homemade problems in refugee policy and by its fear of spending too much money on this Europe from Monday to Friday, only for it to say on Sunday that this Europe is our future and the only one we have. It's hard to imagine more smallmindedness and pettiness, or a more contradictory attitude in Germany's Europe policy. That said, Emmanuel Macron has been happy to support Angela Merkel on one point. Like Merkel he too wants the sort of coordinated European refugee policy that Merkel can't get the CSU to agree to at home.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

German-French motor stalling

Hospodářské noviny is also disappointed with the results of the meeting:

“The German-French tandem is suffering owing to the different approaches of the experienced chancellor and the young president. In addition, Merkel is in a weak position at home due to the migration debate, and the results of Macron's reforms in France are mixed. Yesterday's meeting showed that the president must fight his fight for the most part alone. Yet Europe needs the Franco-German motor more than ever now. Not just because of the effects of the migration crisis but because of the global changes - including Donald Trump. He is seeking out every opportunity to undermine European unity.”

Delo (SI) /

Domestic strife driving Merkel into Macron's arms

The fact that Merkel is on the defensive at home will have just the opposite result, Delo believes:

“The heavy pressure she is under at home could well lead to the kind of European rapprochement that the French president had waited for in vain until now. ... For some, the euro budget is a prime example of the expansion of French centralism to embrace all of Europe. But its critics should have thought of that before the Bavarian conservatives drove the chancellor into a corner for fear of the disastrous consequences of the refugee crisis. The temporally-limited search for a European solution brings with a political give and take that might well have been avoided.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

The president must save the chancellor

The meeting between the two leaders in Schloss Meseberg was the start of a spectacular rescue mission for Merkel, Corriere della Sera concludes:

“The Franco-German consultations are the first act of a diplomatic offensive the goal of which is nothing more and nothing less than to ensure Angela Merkel's political survival. ... They talked about all kinds of topics but the key point was the refugee issue following the ultimatum posed to Merkel by her Bavarian allies: the chancellor has until the end of June to negotiate a bilateral agreement with the European partners in order to turn back refugees already registered in other EU countries at the German border. Otherwise Germany risks a political crisis. A crisis that would also put an end to Macron's ambitious plans.”