French President Emmanuel Macron won backing from Angela Merkel for plans to reform the European Union after Brexit, founded on what the German chancellor called “intense” cooperation between Paris and Berlin.
But many leaders remained wary of ambitious new projects, doubting the appetite of voters for giving up national control and fearing the continued strength of anti-EU sentiment that is taking Britain out of the bloc and saw the far-right win dozens of seats in the German parliament in Sunday’s election.
“Last night’s discussions showed there’s a common realization of a need for a leap forward in Europe,” Macron told reporters on Friday after an EU summit dinner that stretched beyond midnight in the Estonian capital Tallinn.
“Today we’re all convinced Europe must move ahead faster and stronger, for more sovereignty, more unity and more democracy.”
Macron voiced satisfaction with summit chair Donald Tusk’s commitment to report back to EU leaders when they meet again in three weeks with proposals for concrete steps to be taken.
Tusk himself referred to a profusion of reform initiatives, such as those from Macron in a barnstorming pro-European speech at the Sorbonne on Tuesday and by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker earlier this month.
But Tusk, a former Polish premier, also added a note of caution, urging a “step-by-step” approach to “real problems.”