Tipped Merkel successor criticizes ‘slow’ response to Macron

A leading contender to succeed German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday criticized her for taking too long to respond to a French proposal on a post-Brexit revamp of the European Union.

“We take too long to react,” North Rhine-Westphalia’s state premier, Armin Laschet said at the Munich Security Conference.

“I would like to apologize on behalf of the German government,” he added. Macron has called for an overhaul of the European Union in response to Brexit, including taking steps to implement deeper integration in financial and defense matters, and has urged Germany to move the reforms ahead alongside him.

A day earlier, Macron said that he was “impatient” with Germany’s reluctance to take up his offer to cooperate on implementing EU reforms. He added that Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU)- and SPD-led government has not lived up to the promise in their 2018 agreement to create a “fresh start” for Europe.

“I would have liked a more engaged and faster answer to Macron, and a dialogue with him,” he said. Laschet added that Germany should work together with France again in the future to improve Europe.

The fundamental crises that Europe has faced, including the financial crisis, migration crisis and Brexit made it difficult to focus on “great European visions,” he said. “But now I think we are going to need them again.” After Brexit, Germany must also assume more financial responsibility in Europe, he said.

Merkel’s initial tipped successor, Defense MinisterAnnegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, stepped down as CDU leader last week, opening the position to other party leaders again. Laschet, who is seen as a compromise figure between the CDU’s conservative and centrist wings, is one of three potential contenders to become the next chancellor.

However, he refused to confirm at the conference that he was in line for the position. Asked whether he saw his future in Düsseldorf, the capital state of North Rhine-Westphalia, or Berlin, he replied: “Aachen,” referring to his birth city.

lc/mm (dpa, AFP)

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Author: Deutsche Welle