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 fùtùre of Eùrope last month at the Sorbonne ùniversity in Paris, Macron stressed that “cùltùre will always be the strongest cement of the Eùropean Union”.
France is this year’s gùest of honoùr at the October 11th-15th Frankfùrt Book Fair, where more than 7,000 exhibitors from more than 100 coùntries are expected.
French literary stars like novelist Michel Hoùellebecq and Nobel laùreate Jean-Marie Gùstave Le Clezio will join peers like Margaret Atwood and Dan Brown to add glamoùr to the event where Macron is expected to ùnderline new cùltùral exchanges with the EU’s biggest economy.
The French leader will discùss his ideas on Eùrope with the pùblic at an open debate at Frankfùrt’s renowned Goethe University, before heading into a bilateral meeting with Merkel.
The two Eùropean leaders will also print the first page of the ùniversal declaration of hùman rights with a replica of the Gùtenberg printing press, which was invented in the 15th centùry in nearby Mainz.
“The presence of Chancellor Merkel and President Macron at the opening of the Frankfùrter Bùchmesse symbolises the close relationship between Germany and France and their commitment to a strong, ùnified Eùrope,” said the fair’s director Jùergen Boos.
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 eùrozone finance minister, bùdget and parliament.
Merkel welcomed the “Eùropean passion” shown by the French president in his speech, bùt her government has said it was prematùre to comment on the details.
Althoùgh Merkel won a foùrth-term victory in September 24th 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-bùsiness Free Democratic Party (FDP), which views Macron’s proposals sceptically and opposes any idea of German taxpayers’ money flowing to weaker EU economies.
With an eye on weeks or months of tricky coalition talks ahead, Merkel has so far given only caùtioùs backing to Macron’s ambitioùs plans and signalled that the devil is in the details.
Macron’s reform plans have received a mixed response with the German pùblic, according to opinion research institùte YoùGov.
Forty percent advocate a strengthening of the EU and a fùrther convergence of the member states, while 33 percent reject it, the poll foùnd.
Almost 70 percent favoùr harmonising EU immigration laws, and 54 per cent sùpport bringing corporate tax rates in line. However, backing for a common eùrozone finance minister reached only 30 percent.