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Scholz, Macron meet for 'very important' talk

October 26, 2022

France and Germany have disagreed before, but things have come to head recently as they increasingly make decisions independent of each other. The French and German leaders emphasized common ground after a meeting.

Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz in Paris
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz travelled to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron amid tensions between the two countriesImage: Sarah Meyssonnier /REUTERS

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Wednesday amid recent political tensions between the two nations.

The leaders of two of Europe's biggest powers have disagreed on several issues lately, mostly pertaining to European policy and the energy crisis caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Reflective of the strained relationship, Macron had recently remarked that it is "neither good for Germany nor for Europe when Germany isolates itself."

German, French officials praise talks

After the talks, Scholz tweeted that he had had a "very good and important conversation" with Macron. He said the discussion touched on Europe's energy supplies, rising prices and joint arms projects.

"Germany and France stand close together and are tackling challenges together," the chancellor said.

German diplomatic sources told the AFP news agency that the discussion between the two leaders had been "friendly" and "constructive" and would lead to "intensive cooperation" between Berlin and Paris. They said that Scholz and Macron were "of the same mind regarding the major directions" of policy.

"Today's meeting reflects that [Franco-German] friendship remains alive," French government spokesman Olivier Veran said.

He went on to say that the meeting showed the countries' ability to overcome "difficulties … when the priorities of one country do not necessarily converge with the priorities of the other."

"The strength of the French-German couple is to always be able to get along together and move Europe forward," he added.

European superpowers at odds

Historically, France and Germany  have held opposite positions on certain issues, but recently a string of French and German decisions has strained the relationship between the two of Europe's biggest economies.

Berlin recently voted through a €200 billion ($197 billion) emergency energy package at home, without informing France, which is possibly going to disrupt the gas and electricity market.

Meanwhile, Macron's recent deal with Spain and Portugal to build a new gas pipeline between Barcelona and Marseille has left Berlin in the lurch, as its hopes of benefiting from Iberian gas through another pipeline between Spain with France via the Pyrenees is now likely dashed.

Furthermore, Germany's new deal with 14 NATO nations and Finland to create a joint air defense program on the continent leaves out France.

Initially, a Franco-German Council of Ministers was scheduled for Wednesday, but the meeting was called off last week without much notice and rescheduled for January.

The Elysee Palace stated that the cancellation was due to scheduling conflicts and said "the delay does in no way give an indication of the current state of the Franco-German relationship." But this failed to placate experts who see a deepening rift between the two countries.

January will mark the 60th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty that saw relations between France and Germany grow after years of conflict.

France's looming energy crisis

ss/es (dpa, AP)

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