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Merkel and Macron mull migration in Marseille

September 7, 2018

The pair emphasized the need for an "independent" Europe ahead of EU elections next year. They are also set to discuss migration and Brexit ahead of a bloc summit on September 20.

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron
Image: Getty Images/AFP/C. Simon

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met French President Emmanuel Macron in Marseille on Friday as the two allies plan how to tackle major issues such as Brexit and migration ahead of an EU summit later this month.

Merkel told reporters ahead of the meeting that she was "very optimistic" that their close partnership would continue, particularly in terms of migration. Both nations have agreed on the need to strengthen the European Union's external borders in order to ease the burden on nations like Greece and Italy.

The chancellor also remarked that both she and Macron shared a vision of "a Europe that is independent, a Europe that can solve its problems independently," in what may have been a veiled reference to the EU's tense relationship with the United States.

Both leaders confirmed that they would discuss the 2019 European elections, which is set to be a contest between the bloc's mainstream parties and rising populist and anti-immigrant movements.

"We have a lot to do until then," Merkel said. She also referred to the impending final Brexit deal as "something we unfortunately have to deal with."

Macron wrote on Twitter that the two hoped to "make the Mediterranean an opportunity, not a concern":

The meeting comes after some tough weeks for both politicians. In France, Macron has had to deal with plummeting popularity and the resignation of his popular environment and sports ministers, while Merkel has had to contend with a wave of violent far-right demonstrations and counter-protests in the eastern city of Chemnitz.

es/msh (AP, dpa)