“France and Germany have common vital interests, let’s put mutual recriminations aside”

RUnfortunately, the tone has risen just as much between France and Germany. The subjects of contention are numerous, a Franco-German council of ministers scheduled for October 26 has been canceled, preventing a form of exchange between all the members of the two governments, particularly useful in times of crisis.

How did we get there ? The responsibility is of course due to the loosening of the ties granted for years, to a certain routine which has set in. However, it is the unprecedented tensions of the world that have widened the cracks.

Russia, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has violated the charter in its very principle: a war of aggression is currently taking place on European soil. Several emerging countries, such as China, Saudi Arabia or India, are redefining their role, asserting their power in a less cooperative global game. The Covid-19 epidemic has plunged tens of millions of people into extreme poverty. At the same time, the planet is hit by climate change and is growing in nature on an unprecedented scale.

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Faced with these profound phenomena, France and Germany, like all European countries, have common vital interests. Unfortunately, political debates, superficial and largely self-centered, ignore these groundswells. The current disputes between French and Germans adapt a fairly typical mechanism in crises, where everyone tenses up on their position and points the finger at who was their privileged partner.

Review the overall plan

So what to do? Practice a neglected exercise, listen to it in depth, taking the time necessary to go beyond a short-term perspective. In Franco-German cooperation, a precedent exists which could inspire us: after the catastrophic European summit in Nice in 2001, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and President Jacques Chirac invented the “Blaesheim process”, informal meetings in small committee which met approximately every six weeks and which made it possible to restore convergence.

Let’s put mutual recriminations aside. Germany hasn’t really responded to political offers from Emmanuel Macron since 2017, just as France ignored those from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in 1994 or German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in 2000. The truth is that, since the fall of the Berlin wall, we have certainly taken a large number of fundamental decisions in Europe (the creation of the Euro, the enlargement to the East which has sheltered countries from Soviet zone of influence or even more recently the NextGenerationEU recovery plan), but without sufficiently reviewing the overall plan or giving enough impetus to the European Union (EU).

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