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Boris refuses to endorse Macron's 'EU 2.0' at G7 after French say he showed 'enthusiasm'
26 June 2022, 21:02 | Updated: 27 June 2022, 06:35
Boris Johnson does not want to be locked into a "shadow EU" after French officials briefed he showed enthusiasm about Emmanuel Macron's "Europe 2.0".
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The French president has recently promoted his idea of an alternative European grouping that would be less formal than the EU, and suggested the UK could join this.
It was greeted with scepticism by Brexiteers who worried it could see a creeping return into a continental bloc.
A spokesman for the Elysee Palace said on Sunday that Mr Johnson had expressed some enthusiasm about a European Political Community, as he and Mr Macron – both facing their own domestic election fallouts – met to discuss the proposal during Sunday's G7 gathering in Germany.
The spokesman said Mr Macron explained it would provide a framework for cooperation "on subjects of common interest to the countries of the continent, notably in terms of security, energy, infrastructure and youth".
He added: "Prime Minister Johnson expressed interest in this initiative."
But a source hit back at the notion, saying Mr Johnson had not made a "meaningful endorsement" of it.
"We don't want to be locked into a shadow EU organisation," the source told The Telegraph.
Previously, Mr Macron said membership of his proposed grouping would not "prejudge" future EU members or past ones.
It is understood the PM is concerned about how much influence the UK would have in such an arrangement.
He is also thought to have said it would require the involvement of some North African countries.
Mr Johnson's spokesman said: "I think having control of immigration, control of our borders, was one of the reasons we left the EU, and there's absolutely no suggestion that we would change that in any way, shape or form.
"But it makes sense, obviously, to listen to any idea put forward by like-minded countries. We will consider what is presented to us and respond in due course."
Downing Street said after the two leaders' meeting that they also spoke about Russia, and said: "The prime minister stressed any attempt to settle the conflict now will only cause enduring instability and give Putin licence to manipulate both sovereign countries and international markets in perpetuity."
Sunday's G7 in the Bavarian Alps saw some of the leaders mocked Vladimir Putin's past bare-chested horse riding photos.
When Mr Johnson asked if they should keep their jackets on, he suggested they all take their clothes off and that they "have to show we're tougher than Putin".
Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, referenced Putin's photos, to which Mr Johnson remarked: "We've got to show our pecs."
But in more serious remarks, he praised Germany for its approach to Ukraine, with Berlin having been criticised for being weaker in its backing of Kyiv than other Western powers.
"Just look at what the Germans alone have done," Mr Johnson said.
"I never believed in my lifetime that I would see a German chancellor stepping up in the way that Olaf Scholz has and sending weaponry to help the Ukrainians to protect themselves.
"He's made huge, huge strides. We have 4 per cent of our gas from Russia, in Germany it's 40 per cent.
"They're facing real, real pressures, they're having to source energy from elsewhere. But they're doing it. They're making the effort. They're making the sacrifice."
The G7's agenda included sustainability, investments, the economy and health.