The leaders of France and Germany have both stressed Europe must deepen its political and economic integration to ensure peace and continuous prosperity across the continent.

French President Francois Hollande met Chancellor Angela Merkel in the south-western German city of Ludwigsburg to celebrate an anniversary of their countries’ reconciliation following the end of World War II.

“France and Germany have a very special responsibility, we form the heart of Europe,” said Mr. Hollande, adding that European Union’s status quo can only be seen as the starting point for a deeper integration. “Stopping would mean falling back. We don’t have a choice, but to march toward the destiny that is ours, march toward a unified Europe,” he added.

Currency zone

Europe’s 17-nation currency zone is experiencing a deep crisis, Mr. Hollande said, therefore urging Germany and other nations to help “create instruments that make us stronger — the budgetary union, the banking union, the social union, a political union.” Ms. Merkel said both countries will and must work together closely to strengthen Europe to weather those new challenges.

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