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Macron to open Frankfurt book fair Tuesday, bringing message of closer EU union

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Macron to open Frankfurt book fair Tuesday, bringing message of closer EU union
Emmanuel Macron. Photo: DPA
09:10 CEST+02:00
French President Emmanuel Macron takes his push for deeper European integration to Germany Tuesday, where he and Chancellor Angela Merkel will open the world's largest book fair in Frankfurt.

In his landmark speech on the future of Europe last month at the Sorbonne university in Paris, Macron stressed that "culture will always be the strongest cement of the European Union".

France is this year's guest of honour at the October 11th-15th Frankfurt Book Fair, where more than 7,000 exhibitors from more than 100 countries are expected.

French literary stars like novelist Michel Houellebecq and Nobel laureate Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio will join peers like Margaret Atwood and Dan Brown to add glamour to the event where Macron is expected to underline new cultural exchanges with the EU's biggest economy.

The French leader will discuss his ideas on Europe with the public at an open debate at Frankfurt's renowned Goethe University, before heading into a bilateral meeting with Merkel.

The two European leaders will also print the first page of the universal declaration of human rights with a replica of the Gutenberg printing press, which was invented in the 15th century in nearby Mainz.

'European passion'

"The presence of Chancellor Merkel and President Macron at the opening of the Frankfurter Buchmesse symbolises the close relationship between Germany and France and their commitment to a strong, unified Europe," said the fair's director Juergen Boos.

While talk of new cooperation in the arts is likely to be embraced by Germany, Macron may not get the same reception as he makes his pitch for a common eurozone finance minister, budget and parliament.

Merkel welcomed the "European passion" shown by the French president in his speech, but her government has said it was premature to comment on the details.

Although Merkel won a fourth-term victory in September 24th elections, she is now distracted by thorny talks on forming a new government, with coalition talks with two smaller parties set to start next week.

One of them is the liberal and pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), which views Macron's proposals sceptically and opposes any idea of German taxpayers' money flowing to weaker EU economies.

With an eye on weeks or months of tricky coalition talks ahead, Merkel has so far given only cautious backing to Macron's ambitious plans and signalled that the devil is in the details.

Macron's reform plans have received a mixed response with the German public, according to opinion research institute YouGov.

Forty percent advocate a strengthening of the EU and a further convergence of the member states, while 33 percent reject it, the poll found.

Almost 70 percent favour harmonising EU immigration laws, and 54 per cent support bringing corporate tax rates in line. However, backing for a common eurozone finance minister reached only 30 percent.

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