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Merkel strikes reserved tone on Macron's Europe plans

[BERLIN] German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a more reserved tone on Monday with regard to French calls for deeper European integration, saying her party would support steps that made sense but also saying countries must become more competitive.

At a news conference a day after a German election which has forced her to consider a new coalition with a party that has been critical of French President Emmanuel Macron's ideas on Europe, Ms Merkel was asked how much scope she still had to compromise with Paris.

"I'm not going to rule out anything or set red lines," she replied.

"The union (her conservatives) will support what makes sense. My view is that we can use more Europe, but this has to lead to more competitiveness, more jobs and more clout for the European Union."

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She alluded to a planned speech by Mr Macron in Paris on Tuesday at which he is expected to flesh out his ideas to create a budget and finance minister for the euro zone, saying it was important to move beyond such buzzwords and talk about detail.

"It is not about the slogans but what lies behind them," she said.

"I am talking about this with the French president."

Ms Merkel has sent conciliatory signals to Mr Macron since his victory in the French election in May.

He ran on a pledge to "relaunch" Europe together with Berlin.

But her tone on Monday was more reserved, reflecting the difficulty she may face forging compromises with Mr Macron in a new coalition.

Ms Merkel said that Europe would play a role in looming coalition negotiations that are expected to last months, and that it would be important to sound out the Free Democrats (FDP), a business-friendly party that was critical of Mr Macron's ideas during the campaign.

The only obvious coalition option for Ms Merkel, following a decision by her current partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), to go into opposition, is a three-way partnership with the FDP and the environmentalist Greens.

"Today is not the day to say 'this works' and 'that doesn't work'," she said. "We will need to talk to the FDP."

REUTERS

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