Interplay, national consideration, European consideration, foreign policy, EU members, EU European Union, France, Germany, Paris, Berlin, Franco-German agreement, Maastricht Treaty, cooperation, national agenda, European project, 1992, European Summit, Brussels, Nicolas Sarkozy, Jacques Chirac, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Angela Merkel, Russia, European cooperation, nuclear energy, Europe, foreign affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs, foreign relations, multipolarity, UN United Nations, NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization, ESDI European Security and Defense Identity, Chadian regime, Mediterranean policy, Arab policy, German policy, American policy, French policy, coalition, Europe-puissance, energy NATO, federation, Lisbon Treaty
Since the origins of the European project, Europe has depended on close Franco-German cooperation. As we have seen, all the big moves forward were possible because of the basic Franco-German agreement; the last major instance was Maastricht in 1992. The other countries had to follow.
Of course, that cooperation did not prevent Germany and France to retain their own national agenda: there was an interplay between national and European considerations. Still, the "couple" could function.
Is it still true? And are the others willing to continue following Paris and Berlin?
[...] Because Frau Merkel's policy is unclear on many issues: For instance, she seems to hold rather ideological views about European integration (as appears in her speeches about that issue for years) and she appears not to understand the deep, underlying reasons for the Constitution failure in France and the Netherlands. She appears to retain in that respect dangerous illusions, even if the Lisbon Treaty has been accepted in France without problems. But on the long-term Berlin and Paris still do not share a common view about Europe's future . [...]
[...] Paris has also retained a specific African policy, taking the lead of an EU military operation in Chad theoretically to help Sudanese refugees, but in fact bolstering the Chadian regime, which is geopolitically important for France. And in order to underpin its Arab and Mediterranean policy, and also to reorient the Union to the South, after the enlargement to the East, Nicolas Sarkozy has launched the project of a Mediterranean Union, where France would, of course, have the leading role. (More about that later.) Many of those orientations don't appeal to the partners, and particularly not to Germany, as we shall see. [...]
[...] Quite a different person from the previous chancellor, she's very tough: the well-known Gallic charm doesn't work with her . Of course, the coalition may not last four years; it might fall apart because of disagreements on social policies (more than about foreign policy) before 2009. Already they all want to profile themselves for the elections in 2009: that's the problem with big coalitions. Especially because the rise of the Left Party (basically the former communist party in the GDR), as witnessed in a series of local elections, also in the Western part of the country, puts the SPD under heavy stress, and pushes it ever more to a more radical leftist position. [...]
[...] The Union would be of a political, economic and cultural nature. His aims were evidently the following: To rebalance Europe after the enlargement to the East, where Germany has strong influence, with the new organization, directed towards the South, and particularly towards North Africa, where France has considerable interests. That would enhance French influence, particularly so, that evidently in the new Union France would be the most important country. That would help France control her many problems with the South (trade, immigration . [...]
[...] The current evolution of public opinion towards the Left will only reinforce Frau Merkel in her already evident caution. Regarding the US. Schroeder was criticized for his attitude in 2003; but his stance against the US Iraq policy was well received in Germany: public opinion and even conservatives believed the US had gone too far and wanted a new transatlantic balance, giving more weight to Europe. Frau Merkel restored relations with President Bush and calmed things down; at the same time, she criticized Washington for Guantanamo and related issues; she is no systematic Atlanticist, despite her reputation. [...]
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