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Andrea Nahles, new leader of the German Social Democrats (SPD), speaks at an SPD federal party congress on April 22, 2018 in Wiesbaden, Germany.
Amid this sentiment, Schulz said it was crucial for the SPD to support further political and economic integration between European nations, efforts being spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron, one of Merkel’s closest allies in Europe.
“It’s absolutely clear between Merkel and us that there’s no disagreement,” over further integration within the euro zone, he told CNBC. Although he noted that there are “some conservative elements” within Merkel’s alliance that were keen to distance themselves from a policy of closer union, particularly on a financial front.
Schulz, a key pillar of the European bureaucratic machine having served as president of the EU from 2012 to 2017, said that Germany needed to cooperate with its neighbors now more than ever.
“Without a sustainable German contribution to deepening the European Union, Macron is alone. We need that German, French, and I add Italian, cooperation. The U.K. leaving the EU means that one of the four members of the Group of Seven (G-7) coming from the EU is leaving, so that means that the three others, Germany, France and Italy, should cooperate as much as possible,” Schulz said.
“As members of the euro zone, they have a common interest and if Germany doesn’t take that unique opportunity seriously — that basic engagement for Europe … if this is not answered by Germany, not only Europe will be damaged but Macron in France. And that’s what (National Front leader and Macron opponent) Marine Le Pen wishes, so I think Europe is one of our highest priorities,” he added.