Angela Merkel and Xavier Bettel found much common ground on Thursday
Photo: Patrick Galbats
Merkel visits Luxembourg
German chancellor Angela Merkel was in Luxembourg on Thursday for an official working visit.
In an election year in Germany, Angela Merkel took time out to pay an official visit to Luxembourg to meet with prime minister Xavier Bettel as well as Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa. The chancellor was welcomes with military honours by Bettel at the Place Clairefontaine, before meeting the head of state at the Grand Ducal palace. She also visited the birthplace of Robert Schuman and held a joint press conference with the prime minister at Mudam.
Among the topics under discussions were Germany’s plans to introduce an autobahn toll for private motor vehicles. Bettel said he had expressed his concern about the toll to Merkel, claiming that it is discriminatory. But he did not make any mention of taking the case to the European Court as the Netherlands and Austria have threatened to do. Merkel says the federal government is still in talks with the Länder, and that neighbouring countries would also be consulted to ensure that as little controversy as possible results from the toll.
Referring to migration, the German chancellor stressed the need to retain the right of free movement within the European Union, and said that generosity remained one of the cornerstones of the EU. But she also said that the EU needed to strengthen its external borders to address some of the concerns of its citizens.
The two government leaders also talked about the common digital market, which they say is essential in the fight against youth unemployment and necessary to ensure that innovative brains stay in Europe.
Merkel also praised Luxemburg’s efforts to improve transparency in its corporate tax regime, but warned that if the UK decided to lower its corporate tax rates post-Brexit then new discussions about EU corporate tax harmonisation would have to be considered.