Angela Merkel calls for greater military cooperation in EU ahead of European elections in May

Alex Daniel
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Christian Democrats (CDU) Hold Annual Federal Congress
'We want to give an impulse to European unity,' Merkel said. (Source: Getty)

Angela Merkel has said the European Union should cooperate more in developing weapons systems in a bid to push back against a growing wave of euroscepticism before the European parliamentary elections in May.

The German Chancellor said her country may need to make compromises on strict export controls.

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In a speech to her Christian Democrats party (CDU) she said: “It is good that after several decades we want to develop a common defence policy ... We must develop weapons systems together.”

“We have very strict export rules, others have less strict rules ... But anyone who develops an airplane with us would also like to know whether they can sell the plane with us,” she said.

“We will have to make compromises, that is what we are talking about at the moment.”

Last year, Germany’s halted arms sales to Saudi Arabia after the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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Merkel has repeatedly stressed the importance of Germany’s partnership with France, saying on her weekly podcast this week the friendship was “far from a given after centuries of military conflict between our countries”.

“We want to give an impulse to European unity,” Merkel said.

In November the German Chancellor went as far as to call for the creation of a European Army, stressing that such an effort would not mean an end to the US-led Nato.

Merkel was one of several EU politicians who met with Theresa May on Thursday as the British Prime Minister seeks to find a resolution on Brexit talks after her proposed deal was voted down in Westminster last week.