German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that she and French President Emmanuel Macron "wrestle" on policy and have different outlooks, but tended to cooperate and find compromises in the end. "Of course, we wrestle with each other," Merkel said about relations between the core EU leaders who have disagreed recently on issues from how the bloc should handle Brexit to arms exports and climate policy.
"There are differences in mentality between us and differences in our understanding of our roles," she added, speaking to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Asked whether her relationship with Macron had deteriorated in recent months, Merkel replied: "No. Not at all." Instead Merkel insisted that Berlin and Paris agreed "naturally on the big issues", adding that "this is how we accomplish much for Europe, even today".
As an example, she cited "enormous progress" in defence policy, saying that "we decided to develop a fighter plane and a tank together". She did, however, point to different political cultures, saying: "I am the chancellor of a coalition government and much more committed to parliament than the French president, who is not even allowed to enter the National Assembly."
Merkel also said there had been cases of bad timing, pointing out that while Macron was pushing for major European reforms, she was engaged in half a year of coalition building after 2017 elections. Merkel rejected the accusation that, in comparison to reformist Macron, she had been a brake on change in European policy. "We always find a middle way," the chancellor said, adding that Germany too had "launched a whole series of initiatives", including in African development projects.
(With inputs from agencies.)