Midway between Paris and Berlin in the cold, Macron and Scholes go to lunch at the Elysée.

Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz in Berlin on October 3. John McDougall / AFP

A Franco-German cabinet meeting originally scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed, while France and Germany are at odds with each other, particularly on energy and security issues.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will try to restart the Franco-German alliance this Wednesday. A series of controversiesFrom energy to security, behind the war in Ukraine.

During lunch at the Élysée, the two leaders “Strengthening Franco-German cooperationand respond to common challengesUnited and unified waybriefed the French president on Tuesday. It was an ambition that poorly masked the sometimes fraught differences between the top two European powers and led to the postponement for several weeks of Olaf Scholz’s Franco-German meeting of first ministers scheduled for the same day near Paris. According to the program broadcast by the Elysée on Tuesday evening, the president’s visit will not lead to any announcements before or after lunch at 12:00 p.m. and at 12:35 p.m.

«Necessary marriage»

When it comes to strategy for dealing with energy prices, nuclear power, European arms, etc., nothing seems to be going well between Paris and Berlin. Something to worry about is Europe, where the Franco-German machine is a major driving force. “The Franco-German couple splits, so it’s paralyzedFormer French Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin wonders. “We cannot have a united and strong Europe at this moment in history. It begins with an effective Franco-German dialogue“, he warned on France Inter radio on Friday.

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Disputes — particularly over several common industrial projects, from fighter jets to futuristic tanks — have worsened since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine. Germany has been hit hard by its dependence on Russian gasThe transformation of the model, its instability, should not be underestimated“, analyzes Emmanuel Macron.

Chancellor Scholz announced a 200 billion aid package for individuals and businesses after cuts in supplies imposed by Russia, especially amid rising gas prices. The plan, without consultation with its European partners, has caused widespread misunderstanding in Europe and fears of distortion of competition.

After decades of underinvestment, Germany also made a 180-degree turn in defense to build up its military.Europe’s best armed force“. There is also no need to work to strengthen the European strategic autonomy advocated by Paris, and much less Franco-German military-industrial cooperation. Thus Berlin is promoting a program for a European anti-missile shield, especially with an Israeli component, competing with Paris and Rome.

“Coordinated Efforts”

For many observers, this rupture is inherent in any relationship in which European ambitions and national interests are intertwined, but it is not necessarily prohibitive. “The truth is, it was a marriage of necessity, underscores a French diplomatic source. «It’s not a fundamental crisis, it’s a lack in the relationship“, she adds. “Macron Merkel, they exchanged text messages every day, there, I think they don’t talk to each other every day“, she reiterates.

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In Europe, the two leaders “Lots of integrations“While the President’s speech in Prague on the European Union at the end of August said little about France, it was underlined in Paris. Olaf Scholz later pledged to support an eastward EU and an EU enlargement “30 or 36 members», a more proactive approach than that of France. But he pleaded, as in Paris, that a limited number of European decisions, from foreign policy to taxation, be referred to a qualified majority.

In Berlin, we like to relativize. “France is our closest ally. There has been a lot of speculation in recent days, but I think a lot of things have been made new», assumes the spokesperson of the German government. And in Brussels, we’d like to believe it. “I have confidence in the determination of both the French President and the German President“in”work together“, assures Charles Michel, President of the European Council.

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