France's Macron begins state visit to Germany ahead of key EU elections

French President Emmanuel Macron landed in Germany on Sunday for a three-day state visit as the European Union's two biggest powers try to show unity ahead of next month's EU parliamentary elections.

While Macron is a frequent visitor to Berlin, the trip is the first state visit in 24 years, following a trip by Jacques Chirac in 2000.

The visit will be watched as a checkup on the health of the German-French relationship that drives EU policymaking, at a time of major challenges for Europe: from the war in Ukraine to the possible election of Donald Trump as US president in November.

Accompanied by his wife Brigitte, Macron's trip began Sunday afternoon with talks with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmaier, whose role is largely ceremonial compared to that of the powerful French presidency.

On Monday he will travel to Dresden in the former East Germany to deliver a speech on Europe at a European festival.

Tuesday sees Macron in the western German city of Munster and later in Meseberg outside Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and a Franco-German joint cabinet meeting.

Differences over defence

The historically strong Franco-German relationship has been strained of late.

Macron and Scholz have very different leadership styles and have publicly clashed on the issues of defence and nuclear energy since Scholz took power in late 2021.

(with newswires)

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