'He can count on us:' German SPD minister hails Macron's EU speech

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a senior member of the Social Democrats (SPD), on Tuesday lauded French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposals to strengthen the European Union.

“Emmanuel Macron today held a courageous, a passionate plea against nationalism and for Europe - a Europe which he wants to reform, strengthen and unite with our help,” Gabriel said.

“Right now, we need to seize this opportunity for Franco-German initiatives to make Europe more democratic, involve the citizens and make it fit for the future,” Gabriel said.

Gabriel said a joint determination by EU member states was needed to resolve problems in Europe, adding: “He can count on us.”

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Janet Lawrence