Merkel endorses Macron's European Union military plan

Merkel endorses Macron's European Union military plan

She said she was "absolutely open to talking to the new Italian government about ways to help young people find work" given high levels of youth unemployment.

In a weekend newspaper interview, Merkel ruled out debt relief for Italy, saying that the principle of solidarity among euro zone states should not turn the single currency bloc into a debt-sharing union.

In her words, cohesiveness among currency block members is important, "but solidarity between European partners should not lead to a debt union but help its members to help themselves".

Britain has already backed the planned force, which will operate independently of the European Union, despite misgivings that it could be seen as a "European army".

The conservative chancellor was also asked how far she was willing to go in helping French President Emmanuel Macron realise his vision of more solidarity in the euro zone. "Such credits would be spread over 30 years and be conditioned on sweeping structural reforms".

She proposed offering short-term credit lines to stricken countries, but maintained strict conditions for support: "always subject to special conditions of course, for a limited amount and with complete repayment". She also said the EMF would remain under the authority of euro-zone states, in effect giving national parliaments some say over its decisions.

In another nod to Macron, Merkel said she had a "positive view" of his joint European military intervention force. "This is very pleasing", SPD leader Andrea Nahles told the ARD public broadcaster.

For example, he is calling for the creation a eurozone budget and a eurozone finance minister. Conte, a little-known 53-year-old law professor, was sworn in on Friday, ending three months of political deadlock in the wake of inconclusive March 4 elections.

Merkel was characteristically diplomatic when asked how she felt about the incoming populist government in Italy and the comments its euroskeptic leaders had made about Italy not being "slaves to Germany and France".