French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Germany Monday for his first in-person talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, ahead of Berlin taking the rotating European Union presidency, his office said.
Merkel will receive Macron at the government retreat of Meseberg castle north of the capital for talks followed by a press conference and a working dinner, the Elysee Palace said on Wednesday.
As Germany prepares to preside over the EU council for the second half of 2020, "this meeting reflects their common desire for close coordination between France and Germany, following the initiative of 18 May," said the presidency.
This was the day they proposed a 500-billion-euro plan to help Europe emerge from the severe economic damage from the coronavirus epidemic and resulting continent-wide business closures.
The French-German proposal foresees the provision of grants, raised through EU borrowing, for countries most struggling to recover.
It will be on the agenda of a European summit in Brussels next month and requires unanimous EU approval. Some countries -- the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Sweden, insist help should be in the form of loans, not grants, with tough conditions attached.
Macron met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on the issue on Tuesday for talks the Elysee said "allowed for progress to be made".
The French president, it added, would "multiply bilateral exchanges with European partners" ahead of the Brussels summit on July 17 and 18.
The two leaders previously met at Meseberg in 2018, afterwards announcing the "Meseberg Declaration" which proposed a joint budget for the eurozone -- a plan similarly opposed by the Netherlands.
Europe's twin engines of EU unity, France and Germany make up nearly half of the eurozone economy, and a compromise by them usually leads to a deal among the single currency's 19 member countries.