Armin Laschet, a leading German Chancellor contender, accused Angela Merkel of taking “too long to react” to Emmanuel Macron’s demands for EU reform after Brexit. He said: “We take too long to react. I would like to apologise on behalf of the German government.
“I would have liked a more engaged and faster answer to Macron, and a dialogue with him.”
His apology comes after Mr Macron said he had become “impatient” with Germany over their lack of support for his plans to reform the EU after Britain’s decision to unshackle itself from the bloc.
Mr Laschet, the chief minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, suggested Mrs Merkel had dropped the ball and had not paid focus on “great European visions” due to concerns of migration, Brexit and Germany’s financial crisis.
He said: “But now I think we are going to need them again.
“After Brexit, Germany must also assume more financial responsibility in Europe.
It comes after Mr Macron demanded Germany step up and meet his ambition for an EU army while taking aim at his own eurocrat peers for not providing enough cash in its post-Brexit budget, which he says is causing Brussels to fall behind the US and China in trade and future technologies.
READ MORE: Macron Fury: France and Germany feud over future of Europe
Speaking on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, the French President said: “We are becoming a continent that doesn’t believe in its future.
“We don’t invest in our future sufficiently… and politically it is the only way to reconcile with our middle classes.”
Astonishingly, when asked if he felt frustrated by Mrs Merkel’s silence on the matter of his proposed EU army, Mr Macron said: “I’m not frustrated, I’m impatient.”
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The French President added “we have a history of waiting for answers” from each other.
He then said: “What’s key in the coming years is to move much faster on issues of sovereignty on the European level.”
Mr Macron has been pushing for reforms to the EU budget in response to Britain’s departure from the bloc on January 31.
But Germany’s resistance has as a result seen his ambitious proposals watered down into a miniscule budget.
It has been a turbulent few weeks at home for Mrs Merkel after her chosen successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced her shock resignation as Christian Democrat Union (CDU) party leader.
Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer threw the CDU and Mrs Merkel’s plan for a smooth transition of power into turmoil on Monday with her sensational announcement which followed months of mounting doubts about her suitability for the top job.
The CDU are now embarking on choosing a new leader and chancellor candidate for the next federal election due by October 2021.
But the possibility of having a rival as party leader while she remains chancellor may be unworkable and force Mr Merkel, who will not seek re-election after leading Europe’s biggest economy for 15 years, to surrender early.
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