Berlin-Paris: no meeting next week

A Franco-German Ministerial Council planned for next week has been postponed until January. The German Government cited the ongoing need for coordination on several issues and that certain key ministers would not be able to attend as the reason for the postponement. On the French side there was talk of the need for a reset in the relations between the two countries. Commentators speculate on what the sticking points are.

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Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Germany will still need France

The EU's Franco-German motor has stalled, notes Der Tagesspiegel:

“The undermining of old certainties as a result of the war in Ukraine plays a role here. But it is also a consequence of Olaf Scholz's 'traffic light' coalition not having any interest in giving special weight to relations with France. ... . Nevertheless it is short-sighted to neglect relations with its most important partner in Western Europe. ... Germany will still need France - even if the centre of gravity of the EU shifts to the east, thus strengthening Germany's role. Because the governments in Poland and Hungary don't share many of the EU's values, insist on their own ways and are unwilling or unable to negotiate compromises within the community.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Macron finally putting his foot down

France is right to feel threatened by Germany's energy policy, philosopher Jean-Loup Bonnamy stresses in Le Figaro:

“Germany's schemes are the main enemy of French nuclear power. ... Whether it's gas and gas pipelines or nuclear energy, German policy poses a threat to our major energy suppliers (and thus to our households and businesses). ... So Paris is right to (finally!) put its foot down vis-à-vis Berlin. There is, however, a downside. Because Paris is protesting for the wrong reasons. ... Instead of calling for more European federalism and demanding more commitment from Germany, Macron should be advocating less Germany and less Europe.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Arms cooperation no longer running smoothly

Germany's coalition government is no longer adhering to Merkel's policy on arms exports, La Repubblica explains:

“In Berlin, doubts about the FCAS [Future Combat Air System] are not getting smaller but bigger. Thanks to his excellent relations with Angela Merkel, Macron had been able to push through the project despite opposition from German industry. But now the deal seems to be blocked again. Because while Scholz and Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht were willing to meet France’s demands on arms exports, their Green colleague Robert Habeck advocated much stricter rules. ... They have not yet been discussed in the Ministerial Council, but apparently they are another obstacle in relations between Paris and Berlin.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Drifting apart is unacceptable

The taz's France correspondent Rudolf Balmer hopes that the substantive differences between the two countries will be openly expressed:

“Without a credible basis for cooperation between Paris and Berlin, the centrifugal tendencies in the EU threaten to intensify further under the strain of the war and the energy crisis. Drifting apart is unacceptable. ... In the interest of the entire EU, the Franco-German duo must be frank about their divergences and reinvent the partnership on the basis of the things they genuinely have in common.”