The EU is in a ‘mess’ due to the lack of compromise between France and Germany, a French minister has told Express.co.uk. French President Emmanuel Macron is welcoming his Germany counterpart Olaf Scholz in Paris today for an informal meeting as the two EU leaders have been locking horns on matters of energy and defence in recent months. The chancellor’s visit was hastily arranged to replace a Franco-German council that was to be held today with the two governments meeting in Fontainebleau.
Last week, Emmanuel Macron said Germany was at “a moment of model change” with “its destabilising character”.
Several German MPs are noting French irritation at Germany’s ‘solo’ action aid plan of €200billion and lack of coordination with Paris. Faced with the war, Germany began its “Zeitenwende”, its change of era, with a rise of investments in armaments.
But in its transformation, Berlin does not seem to give priority to Franco-German relations, according a French politician.
A French minister who spoke to Politico in Paris says the purpose of today’s meeting is to put the Franco-German relationship back on track, “to organise a roadmap for the next Franco-German council” which will deal with several subjects: defence, space, economy, culture”.
Tensions between the two EU powerhouses are, however, creating a “mess” in the bloc, according to Dr Roderick Parkes.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, the Research Director at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) and Head of the Alfred von Oppenheim Center for European Policy Studies claimed that the self-given status of ownership enjoyed by the Franco-German couple throughout the years is provoking a reshuffle of balance of power in the bloc now the two leaders cannot seem to agree on anything.
Dr Parkes said: “France and Germany have a historic sense of ownership about further development to the EU, I think quite a lot of that is for lack of a better term sort of bull****.
“But, historically, they’ve kind of told themselves if France and Germany reach compromise then they reach a compromise for the whole of the EU for north and south and east and west, because if they can agree then essentially they’ve agreed for everybody. That’s been untenable since the EU enlarged eastwards back in 2004.
“Now, I think the very most you would say that Franco-German cooperation is a necessary condition for deeper integration and for political decisions, but not a kind of sufficient one, they can’t do it themselves.
“So I think relations between them have broken down. And that’s poisoning all the other bilateral relationships in the EU.
“So the French tried to team up with the Italians, in order to show the Germans that they could do it alone, the Germans were then quite pleased when the [Mario] Draghi government disappeared – not because they like what comes after it, but because they were worried that France and Italy would start doing Eurozone and fiscal policies over their heads.
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“Germany reached out to Spain in order to circumvent the French. At the same time, the French are terrified that the Germans are going to start teaming up with the Poles and move everything eastwards. But the Germans can’t cooperate with the Poles, because the political differences are too big.
“So you’ve just got this sort of mess at the moment and because the relationship between France and Germany is toxic, that’s infected all the other bilateral relationships because everybody’s manoeuvring around them trying to exploit differences between them, and pull this balance apart in Europe, towards them.
“And a lot of that is triggered by Brexit as well just just kind of reshuffling of relations, and filling a gap that Britain left. So just in political terms, it’s a mess. And it’s and it’s really toxic.
“And if France and Germany aren’t cooperating, then really nobody is.”
Mr Macron and Mr Scholz are locking horns over Berlin’s intention to invest in US weapons rather than boost EU defence project.
The German Government announced this year it would increase its defence budget by €100billion (£89billion) but it has since signalled that most of the money would go to the US.
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French officials lament that joint Franco-German military projects such as the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) fighter jet and the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) tank would have benefitted from a boost in funds from the German side.
Last summer, then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to buy US maritime patrol aircraft for €1.1billion (£950million).
The “interim” deal with the US sparked outrage in France and President Macron was reportedly said to have been left “exasperated” by Mrs Merkel’s move.
The two governments have also exchanged blows over their military support to Ukraine with Germany often criticised for the delays in providing Kyiv with military weapons.
France, Berlin argues, has equally been slow in showing support to Ukraine but is often let off the hook.
The two countries have also publicly disagreed on matters of energy, especially with regard to the MidCat gas pipeline project.
President Macron had previously argued against the project, which is strongly backed by Germany as a backup for halted Russian gas deliveries.
The cross-Pyrenees has been opposed by France because of “national interest” amid potential competition for the country’s nuclear-generated power and nascent hydrogen production industry.