(Bloomberg) -- President Emmanuel Macron rejected sharing existing euro-area debt among member states and pledged to implement economic reform in his home country as he sought to revive the French-German partnership during his first official meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel, receiving her fourth French president since taking office almost 12 years ago, told the freshly elected Macron that Germany would be willing to consider changing European Union treaties if necessary. The two leaders, meeting in Berlin the day after Macron’s inauguration, pledged to create a new “road map” for medium-term cooperation and reviving the EU.
After years of strained relations between France and Germany, Macron wants to reset the partnership to improve growth across the region and counter the populist fervor that triggered the U.K.’s exit from the EU, helped Marine Le Pen achieve the strongest-ever election result for France’s National Front party this month and powered the campaign of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands in March.
"The elections in the Netherlands and in France have made us aware what a treasure we have with Europe,” Merkel said during a press conference with Macron on Monday. “We can give the whole situation a new dynamic. I am aware of the responsibility at this critical moment that we make the right decisions.”
While Macron was greeted by a small cheering crowd at the gates of the chancellery in Berlin, his May 7 election was also followed by newspaper headlines in Germany including “How much will Macron cost us?” and “The Expensive Friend.” During his appearance with Merkel, he sought to drive home that he wasn’t coming to Germany asking for money and that he’s committed to modernizing the French economy.
“For my part, in France I have to put in place deep reforms,” he said. “I have never favored mutualizing existing debt. What we need to do is work on greater integration for the future.”
At the same time, 39-year-old president repeatedly mentioned the need for the EU to protect its citizens in a globalized world, embrace free trade but also not be naïve about global competitors and to generally rebuild confidence among its members.
“We’re at a turning point in Europe that requires mutual confidence,” he said.
Asked about the crowds who cheered his arrival, he said it showed that European citizens remain committed to the EU and that he wants to be cheered again -- five years from now at the end of his term -- because governments have produced results.