President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday France was growing “impatient” with the lack of German response to its push to strengthen the European Union after Brexit.
Asked at the Munich Security Conference if he was frustrated by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s silence on his proposed reforms, Macron said: “I’m not frustrated, I’m impatient.”
“We have a history of waiting for answers” from each other, he said.
“What’s key in the coming years is to move much faster on issues of sovereignty on the European level.”
Macron has long pushed for an ambitious overhaul of the European Union in response to Britain’s departure from the bloc, including deeper integration in financial and defence matters.
Although Paris and Berlin are traditionally spoken of as the twin “motors” of the European project, Macron’s hopes that the two neighbours could spearhead the reforms together have been dashed by German foot-dragging.
Resistance from Germany and others saw Macron’s flagship proposal of a common eurozone budget watered down to a tiny budget for selected projects.
His recent offer to put France’s nuclear deterrence at the heart of Europe’s defence strategy has also met with a cool response from Berlin, wary of straying from the US nuclear shield within NATO.
“I maintain that the protection of many countries here in Europe is guaranteed by the alliance with NATO,” German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in Munich.
Any talk of strengthening Europe should above all be about “strengthening the European pillar within NATO,” she added.
But with the Merkel era drawing to close as the veteran chancellor plans to bow out in 2021, Macron may well be looking to the next German government to put his reform push back on track.
At the conference, he met with leaders of Germany’s surging Greens party, as well as top figures in Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservative bloc.