Merkel Says She Won’t Be a ‘Know-It-All’ in Talks With Macron

  • German chancellor, new French president meeting in Berlin
  • Leaders of two biggest euro economies to discuss Europe’s path

The Meteoric Rise of France's New President 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to avoid lecturing newly elected President Emmanuel Macron on overhauling France’s economy when they meet in Berlin, saying she isn’t a “know-it-all.”

“I’m the last one who will step forward and tell France what it has to do,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Monday hours before her first meeting with Macron as president. “We have full confidence in the president that he knows what to do, that he’ll present it to us. And then we’ll discuss where we can cooperate well together.”

Angela Merkel on May 15.

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Merkel has embraced Macron as a pro-European leader who offers a chance for France to carry out labor-market changes and address its competitiveness gap with Germany. Merkel, 62, is hosting Macron, 39, at the chancellery on his first full day as president later Monday. They’re scheduled to hold a joint news conference at 6:45 p.m. in Berlin.

In a nod to winning Germany’s trust, Macron pledged during his campaign to keep France’s budget deficit below the 3 percent bar set by a European Union agreement. He’s taking charge in France at a time when the deficit and unemployment rate are both edging lower and economic growth is forecast to pick up.

In Germany, Macron’s election victory on May 7 stoked an election-year fight between Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, who said his ascent to the presidency was the signal for the chancellor to dump fiscal austerity in Europe.

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Merkel suggested last week that Germany’s labor-market overhaul under her predecessor, Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder, could hold lessons for France.

“What we’ve done in the past is well-known, but we’re not in a position to tell France what it should do,” she said Monday. “He’ll represent the interests of his country; I’ll represent the interests of Germany.”

Germany’s Foreign Ministry said it’s drafting a paper outlining renewed Franco-German push on security, investment and cooperation in the 19-member euro area, ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said. The draft was originally reported by Der Spiegel magazine.

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