French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron promoted closer Franco-German cooperation to strengthen Europe during his visit to Germany on Thursday.
“Today, Europe is again facing great dangers,” Mr. Macron said after meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel of the center-right Christian Democrats and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel of the center-left Social Democrats.
“We have a shared responsibility that we must take on,” the French presidential candidate said.
Mr. Gabriel said he is "absolutely certain that a presidential candidate who pursues a pro-European course in France deserves our support."
Mr. Macron, a socialist turned independent, spoke of “great agreement” with Ms. Merkel. There was no public public appearance of the two. Vice Chancellor Gabriel, on the other hand, appeared with Mr. Macron arm-in-arm in front of the cameras at the Foreign Ministry, clearly showing his support for the 39-year-old.
“From what I can see, you are the only presidential candidate in France to pursue a clear and unequivocal course for Europe,” Mr. Gabriel told Mr. Macron. “Europe needs a strong France, needs a [French] president who is clearly European-oriented.”
Mr. Gabriel said he is “absolutely certain that a presidential candidate who pursues a pro-European course in France deserves our support.”
Mr. Macron faces the conservative candidate François Fillon, who is struggling with a fake government jobs scandal, and the right-wing populist Marine Le Pen. Mr. Macron was formerly the Minister of Economic Affairs under socialist President François Hollande, but on April 23, he became an independent candidate.
The final decision of the French people will likely be made in a second round of voting on May 7.
“I saw a real will in the chancellor to move forward with France,” Mr. Macron said after the meeting with Ms. Merkel.
He tweeted a picture of their meeting at the Chancellery, with a caption in French saying: “Meeting with Angela Merkel. You can’t make plans for France without Germany or an approach on Europe.
Rencontre avec Angela Merkel. On ne peut pas porter un projet pour la France sans se soucier d’un projet européen et de l’Allemagne. pic.twitter.com/cTYu6RMMiW
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) 16 mars 2017
They talked about European issues such as the establishment of a defense union and immigration, he said. Whether the chancellor wished him luck for the presidential elections in April and May, Mr. Macron didn’t say.
Mr. Gabriel said he saw the defeat of the right-wing populists in the election in the Netherlands as a sign for France as well. “I am sure this will be repeated in France,” said the outgoing boss of the Social Democrats. “The anti-Europeans aren’t gaining ground by any means.”