Macron takes EU reform campaign to German book fair, to meet Merkel

Source:AFP Published: 2017/10/10 23:13:40

French President Emmanuel Macron takes his push for deeper European integration to Germany Tuesday, where he and Chancellor Angela Merkel will open the world's largest book fair in Frankfurt.

In his landmark speech on the future of Europe last month at the Sorbonne university in Paris, Macron stressed that "culture will always be the strongest cement of the European Union."

France is this year's guest of honor at the October 11-15 Frankfurt Book Fair, where more than 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries are expected.

French literary stars like novelist Michel Houellebecq and Nobel laureate Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio will join peers like Margaret Atwood and Dan Brown to add glamor to the event where Macron is expected to underline new cultural exchanges with the EU's biggest economy.

The French leader will discuss his ideas on Europe with the public at an open debate at Frankfurt's renowned Goethe University, before heading into a bilateral meeting with Merkel.

The two European leaders will also print the first page of the universal declaration of human rights with a replica of the Gutenberg printing press, which was invented in the 15th century in nearby Mainz.

The book fair's director Juergen Boos said Merkel and Macron's joint opening of the Frankfurt literature extravaganza underlined the important role culture can play in creating "a strong, unified Europe."

"Culture is the right approach to strengthen the European project, it's easier than starting with the economy," Boos told AFP after the opening press conference.

While talk of new cooperation in the arts is likely to be embraced by Germany, Macron may not get the same reception as he makes his pitch for a common eurozone finance minister, budget and parliament.

Merkel has welcomed the "European passion" shown by the French president in his speech, but her government has said it was premature to comment on the details.

Although Merkel won a fourth-term victory in September 24 elections, she is now distracted by thorny talks on forming a new government, with coalition talks with two smaller parties set to start next week.

One of them is the liberal and pro-business Free Democratic Party, which views Macron's proposals sceptically and opposes any idea of German taxpayers' money flowing to weaker EU economies.

Posted in: EUROPE

blog comments powered by Disqus