Merkel and Macron to hold secret summit as they plot to take more control of EU

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The German chancellor is believed to be meeting with the French president at his summer residence on the Mediterranean around August 20, a European diplomat said. The meet is another sign of a renewed vigour for the Franco-German engine.

The meet comes after a game-changing deal was agreed for the European Union to raise debt for the first time to help fund recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Under their new plan, the fund will be financed by borrowing from the market in the name of the EU while the money given out will not have to be paid back.

This marked a major move for both sides as Berlin moved round to the French view that more flexibility is needed to ensure all of Europe survives from the crisis, not just the already richer north.

European diplomats have welcome a new relationship with the EU’s two most powerful leaders.

They believe close working could bring new momentum to other hurdles in the EU including digital tax or US tariffs.

However, as Ms Merkel is coming to the end of her mandate next year, others have questions if anything could be achieved during the meeting.

In the past, Mr Macron has received a few notable guests at his mansion in southern France including Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Prime Minister Theresa May.

News of this secret summit comes just hours after Europe’s “big four” member states – France, Germany, Italy and Spain – revealed whether they would leave the bloc if the Brexit outcome proves a success.

A recent poll by Redfield and Wilton Strategies found Italy was most likely to follow the UK and leave the EU.

The poll, which quizzed 1,500 people in each of the four countries, 6,000 people in total, between July 17-18, also found France and Spain showed moderate interest in leaving.

Germany was the least likely to quit the Union.

The coronavirus crisis put the weakening EU under strain and fury erupted in Italy over the way it was abandoned by its European partners during the coronavirus crisis.

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Italy was one of the worst hit countries during the outbreak of COVID-19 and to date, more than 35,000 people have died due to the deadly virus.

Economist have warned of catastrophic economic effects for the already heavily indebted country.

In June, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen demanded Rome tackles overdue reforms after receiving millions from the European Reconstruction Fund.

Ms von der Leyen suggested reducing bureaucracy and measures against the impact of organised crime in the public sector.

She said: “We, the EU, are borrowing money from our children for the first time.

“So today’s investments must bear fruit for our children.

“We will not simply borrow money from our children just to spend more today, as our Member States sometimes did.

“The decisions that Italy makes today will shape the Italy of tomorrow.

“Corona is also an opportunity for Europe to reunite. This is the hour of Europe.”

Speaking to La Stampe, Italy’s Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte said: “Now we have the funding to do this, the European framework allows us to do that.

“We must not waste this opportunity.”

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