A New Stage in Relations between France and Germany

Photo: RTE

France and Germany – the two closest allies in the EU and NATO – continue the collaboration after the re-election of Angela Merkel as Federal Chancellor of Germany.

It is important to note that immediately after the election, Merkel made her first foreign visit to France. In Paris, the leaders of the two European countries have agreed to overcome differences and to formulate a road map for reforms in the Eurozone.

Thus, the newly elected Chancellor seeks to fulfill the promise given by the new German government “to make a new start” for Europe. As for the French President, since coming to power last May, the central objective of his European policy has also been a thorough revision of the Eurozone. Hence, a new ground for cooperation.

The objective of the reforms, according to politicians, is to stabilize 19 Eurozone countries economically and increase their competitiveness in a single currency bloc.

The roadmap of reforms, which also includes the banking system, budget issues, and the tax system, should be ready by June.

Thus, France and Germany again emphasize their leading positions in the European Union and express their readiness for closer cooperation.

However, not everything goes as smoothly as it may seem at first glance. For example, members of the conservative bloc of Merkel, fear of a more comprehensive European integration, especially if it means that Germany, Europe’s economic power, will unite the risks and debts of other financially less stable countries.

As for foreign policy issues, in relation to Russia, for example, the West does not change its position. This was once again evidenced by the coincidance of positions and mutual support of Britain, USA, France and Germany on the “case of Skripal”.

France and Germany are united also in other foreign policy issues, where their opinion contradicts the approaches of the United States, for example, relations with Iran and the Middle East as a whole.

The thing is that the United States and Britain, according to many analysts, put pressure on the EU, as well as on NATO, so in the Union  the mood of independence and freedom from the United States is increasingly being activated.

In addition, in January Merkel called on the European Union to ensure the unity of foreign policy against the backdrop of disagreements with major international players, of course, including the United States.

Besides, one of the factors that divides the European Union’s powers is migrant crisis.  

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany will take care of refugees, fulfilling its international humanitarian duty. Merkel has been much criticized for her “open door” policy especially by the fellow conservatives, notably the Bavarian CSU party. That is why Germany wanted its partners in the EU to adopt a mandatory quota to spread migrants across the EU. France, Italy and Greece supported Germany on that initiative.

However, there have been warnings that France could end its arrangement with Britain on migrants after Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Marine Le Pen’s National Front is a major force in French politics that is against the EU and strongly condemns mass immigration.

So, аs a result of opposition resistance, the EU’s common policy on migrants can be undermined. This is one of the key issues to discuss in EU Summit.

All this show that relations between France and Germany are far from being ideal.

Germany, an economically powerful Western European country reserved from military interventions, has its own vision on its continent and especially in Central and Eastern Europe.

And France, a permanent member of the UN Security Council with a strong army, nuclear weapon, and privileged zones of influence in the South, particularly in Africa, retains its ambitions in world politics and tries to develop relations with China and India separate from the EU. Germany jealously accepted France’s attempt to act as Europe’s representative, while Germany was engaged in the most difficult process of forming a new coalition.

Thus, this means that in certain issues there are serious disagreements and competition between the two major European powers and in the near future, these disagreements will be felt and become more vivid.