Macron, Scholz Bridge Differences In Paris

Symbolic meeting in Paris between French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

France and Germany, the political and economic engines of the EU, will give themselves the opportunity this Sunday to overcome their differences in 2022, especially in matters of defense and energy, with a symbolic meeting in Paris between the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The consequences of the war in Ukraine opened the seams in the relationship between Paris and Berlin, which disagreed on issues such as the need for a European defense policy; the relationship with the United States; how to combat inflation in the EU; or the control of energy prices on the continent.

Precisely the lack of authorization from Berlin to send the German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, as desired by Volodimir Zelenski, Washington and several European partners, will be one of the thorniest issues of the Franco-German meeting, which seeks to pass page of the tensions of 2022.

The two main capitals of the EU already postponed their annual Summit last year and now they are giving themselves an opportunity to make progress in 2023, despite “the specific differences” that may exist with respect to one or another issue, as sources acknowledge. from Germany.

For the French presidency, today’s Sunday scenario may be propitious for the two capitals to finally reach “a common vision on the great European issues”. January 22 marks the exact 60th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty that sealed the Franco-German friendship (two countries that fought three wars between the 19th and 20th centuries).

The Summit, which will also include parliamentary and ministerial meetings, will end with a long-awaited joint press conference by Macron and Scholz at the Élysée Palace at 5:00 p.m. local time (4:00 p.m. GMT).

In it, they will probably address the setting of the price of gas, which serves as a reference for electricity; the shipment to Ukraine of the Leopard 2; on how to give a European response to the US Inflation Emissions Reduction Act (IRA); or the defense policy embodied in the European SCAF combat aircraft project, led by France, Germany and Spain.

This industrial and technological initiative, which Macron considers essential for European sovereignty, finally saw the green light from the industrial part at the end of 2022, essential for its execution.

However, Paris still remembers with some bitterness that the Scholz government made a multimillion-dollar purchase of American F-35 fighters shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, something that the French authorities interpreted as a gesture of disdain for the SCAF, which should be operational in 2027.

Forced to Understand Each Other

“France and Germany are obliged to work together, to get along,” said François Laval, a specialist in European politics at Sciences Po.

Laval explained that the tug-of-war between Paris and Berlin are common in recent history and gave as an example the relationship between the French Jacques Chirac and the German Gerhard Schröder, which started off on the wrong foot, but then turned towards their common position against of the Iraq war (2003).

For the Sciences Po professor, these divergences are the result of the different political and economic structure of both countries: a federal, parliamentary, and export-oriented Germany, as opposed to a presidential, centralized France with more social spending.

According to the Sorbonne specialist in Franco-German relations, Hélène Miard-Delacroix, the war in Ukraine has revealed that Germany “was not as flourishing” as many in Europe thought.

“It has been seen to what extent they depend on selling to China, on Russian gas,” said Miard-Delacroix, who recalled that the way in which Scholz dealt with inflation, granting an aid package without consulting the European partners, made him uncomfortable.

“You can think that this is a selfish or responsible attitude towards the German voters, who are the ones who elected him,” she stated.

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