Merkel signals willingness to compromise on EU reform

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French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a news conference after their meeting in Berlin on Thursday.

The Social Democrats, led until recently by former EU Parliament President Martin Schulz, are more willing to go along with euro reform, whereas many in Merkel's bloc are concerned that Germany will be left to underwrite the debts of more spendthrift euro members.

They repeated those proclamations ahead of Thursday's meeting but offered no detail on how they hoped to craft a deal to buttress the single currency without forcing Germany to take on greater financial risk, a central concern of Merkel's conservatives.

"Quite possibly, the issue [of Merkel's visit to Russian Federation during the championship - TASS] will also be taken up there", he said.

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Macron's vision also includes turning Europe's existing bailout fund into a European Monetary Fund (EMF), to act as a buffer in any future financial crises in the bloc, which was almost torn apart in a debt crisis that took hold in 2009. Macron is pushing for bold changes while Merkel is under pressure from within her own ranks - with leading CDU/CSU politicians arguing that the plans are not in Germany's interest.

He played down differences in emphasis between European Union and euro zone members.

They also said national lawmakers, not the European Commission, should have the final say over any aid disbursements.

Merkel said she was very optimistic about completing a banking union.

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But given Germany's reluctance, expectations for a breakthrough in Berlin had been low.

"Macron must feel like a suitor who tries and tries to woo his beloved, even singing under her balcony, but is fobbed off with platitudes", the Handelsblatt financial daily wrote.

With her parliamentary majority badly reduced, Merkel can't afford a rebellion by her own MPs. Merkel's coalition partner, the SPD, sympathises with Macron on the need for reforms.

A group of smaller northern European Union countries, led by the Netherlands, have also pushed back, warning that they refuse to be "railroaded" into sweeping reforms.

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