France's Macron: had 'very encouraging' talks with Germany on EU power reform

French President Macron and his cabinet visit Hamburg

By Andreas Rinke and Michel Rose

HAMBURG/PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he had "very encouraging" discussions with the German government on the European electricity reform the two countries have been fighting over, adding that talks should wrap up by the end of the month.

Macron's comments come as France is locked in a battle with Germany over the place of nuclear energy in legislation negotiated at the EU level, an issue that will also have an impact on the competitiveness of the two countries.

"We had in-depth, very encouraging discussions, and we've agreed our teams and ministers will work together to ensure we can find a necessary deal by the end of the month," Macron said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Macron said France, which mostly relies on nuclear energy, and Germany, which uses more coal and gas but is massively investing in renewables, had different energy mixes that could complement each other.

"It would be a historic mistake to lose ourselves in petty disputes in the short term because one would prefer nuclear and the other would prefer renewables," Macron added.

The French president, speaking after meetings in the German port city of Hamburg, said both France and Germany were willing to find a deal on an EU framework guaranteeing the free movement of electricity on the continent and increasing interconnections.

"Apart from energy-intensive (industries), we don't want a subsidised model, we want a model based on production costs," Macron added.

Scholz struck a positive tone too.

"We agree on a lot of things, for example that we want to do everything to ensure that Europe can have a carbon-neutral economy by the middle of the century. The paths to this are different but they fit well together," Scholz said.

(Reporting by Michel Rose in Paris and Andreas Rinke in Hamburg, additional reporting by Rachel More in Berlin, editing by Tassilo Hummel and Tomasz Janowski)