Over the weekend, Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party overtook the Social Democrats in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most-populous state. "He's a pro-European, and there were not many candidates that were for more Europe..."
French President Emmanuel Macron is set to unveil his cabinet on Tuesday, a delicate balancing act for the centrist who has promised to include faces from the left and right as well as political newcomers. "We have need of an historical time which would be a time of re-founding", Macron affirmed during a press conference.
A pro-European, German-speaking rightist, Le Maire came second to ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy for the leadership of The Republicans party in 2014 and finished fifth in the right-wing presidential primaries a year ago. He said he would make reforms "not because Europe requests it, but because France needs it", even if they are also "necessary for the restoration of Franco-German [relations]".
Ms. Merkel and her government have always been skeptical of proposals to pool more resources, believing that sharing eurozone money could let countries off the hook when it comes to balancing their budgets and making necessary reforms.
Those present at the cabinet meeting, the first since ministers were appointed on Wednesday, included economy and budget ministers from the right, a TV environmentalist put in charge of ecology and energy, and a veteran Socialist who was defence minister in the last government and is now in charge of Europe and foreign policy.
His candidacy and victory was embraced by Merkel, who said during the May 15 news conference that, while treaty changes are not an immediate subject of discussion, she is open to the idea.
Macron, who ran on a pro-EU platform, decisively beat far-right rival Marine Le Pen in the second-round vote earlier this month. As for the German Chancellor, she also remains in suspense leading up to the Bundestag elections on September 24.
Macron, the fervently pro-European centrist sworn in as head of state on Sunday, in keeping with tradition made his first trip overseas to Berlin, its "power couple" partner in the heart of the European project.
"I am happy that we can work together on a common roadmap for the European Union and the Euro Zone", he said.
The task will not be easy for Macron.
The German Chancellor, meanwhile, backed a relationship of "full confidence" that generates "close cooperation" for the well-being of both countries, and she emphasised that "the interests of Germany are closely linked with the interests of France".
"Macron clarified his position, saying he did not want Eurobonds or the mutualisation of (eurozone) debt" said Demesmay, referring to the pooling of funding and the build up of previous loans.
His proposals for a single finance minister and a shared budget for the eurozone has raised mistrust in a Germany anxious they might be required to pay more for countries unable to clean up their finances.
"If we can answer the questions of why, what for and explain the usefulness of such changes, then Germany would be ready for that anyway", she said, adding that she had briefly discussed this with Macron during the meeting.
The French and German leaders pledged to relaunch the partnership between their two countries in order to "reconstruct" the EU.
And from one bank of the Rhine to the other, differences of understanding could make the search for compromise hard to achieve.