German Chancellor Angela Merkel is setting her sights on a meeting with French PresidentEmmanuel Macron later this week as "another building block" toward finding common solutions regarding reforms needed within the European Union.
The latest in a series of mass public sector strikes over his cost-cutting plans is planned Thursday, while students at numerous universities around France are blocking faculty buildings over his higher education reforms.
The young French leader's call to arms comes after eurosceptic populists won elections in Hungary and Italy, and as Brussels confronts Poland's right-wing government over the rule of law.
Speaking after Macron, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU wasn't just a club led by France and Germany.
Macron said he was concerned by the growing sense of "doubt" in several European countries in the wake of the shock 2016 Brexit vote, which he said was creating divisions in the EU. "We can not divide each other, Europe is one thing in itself", Juncker said. "We are 28 [members]", he recalled. "We are discussing budget; France is ready to increase its share, but we need to work on re-establishing that budget".
Macron called for an energetic campaign for the European Parliament election in May 2019 as the EU also deals with the challenges of Britain's departure. He told MEPs that the answer to authoritarian democracy should be "the authority of democracy".
In terms of his European reforms, Macron has struggled to win support across Europe for all his proposals.
France and Germany aim to agree on proposals for European Union reforms by June.
Macron will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin tomorrow, as France and Germany aim to agree on proposals for European Union reforms by June.