Emmanuel Macron hosted Angela Merkel for dinner on Thursday evening, one of the last opportunities for the two leaders to work “hand in hand” in the run-up to the German elections, which will appoint the Chancellor’s successor on September 26.
Emmanuel Macron hosted Angela Merkel for dinner on Thursday evening, one of the last opportunities for the two leaders to work “hand in hand” in the run-up to the German elections, which will appoint the Chancellor’s successor on September 26. The post-summer reunion between the French president and the German chancellor did not give rise to any particular outpouring in the courtyard of the Elysee.
“Until the next (German) government is formed, Angela Merkel and I will continue to work hand in hand on the major issues to which we seek to provide Franco-German solutions, as we have been doing since day one “, affirmed Emmanuel Macron. And he listed the many issues on the menu for this “working dinner”, first of all the “consequences” that the Europeans must draw “among themselves” from the crisis in Afghanistan.
The “coherence of Europeans” is also at stake, according to him, in “the fight against terrorism” in the Sahel, where Paris announced Thursday morning the death of the head of the jihadist group Islamic State in the Great Sahara (EIGS), Adnan Abou Walid al-Sahrawi.
Emmanuel Macron did not directly mention the shock caused by the spectacular announcement made Wednesday evening of a vast security pact between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, which ousted Paris from a mega- contract for the supply of submarines to Canberra. He just cited the importance of the Indo-Pacific area on which “the Europeans adopted a common strategy” this week. The breach of this contract, which caused “the anger” and “bitterness” of the head of diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian, should push Paris to continue promoting more defense and European strategic autonomy, especially industrial.
This will be one of the objectives of the future French presidency of the European Union, in the first half of 2022, which will coincide with the campaign for the French presidential election on April 10 and 24. But will Emmanuel Macron have a new interlocutor in Berlin on January 1 if the negotiations for the formation of a new government were to drag on? “We will do everything in our power to avoid that there is too long a latency period,” assured him Angela Merkel, in power for nearly sixteen years.
During the previous general elections in 2017, the negotiations lasted nearly 6 months, which had already forced Emmanuel Macron, who had just been elected, to wait several months to start pushing his European agenda. Angela Merkel is likely to still be at her post for the EU-Western Balkans summit in Ljubljana on October 6, and then two weeks later for a meeting of the 27 in Brussels.
In four years, the personal and work relationship between Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel has evolved considerably since 2017.
Faced with the Covid, the two leaders have been able to strengthen their ties
At the start, it was difficult to find much in common between a 67-year-old chancellor, brought up in the school of prudence, and a young president of 43 years who set up daring and movement in political markers. But over time, the two leaders have managed, according to many witnesses, to build a solid relationship of trust. The French president has long encountered German reluctance to increase EU spending.
Faced with the Covid, the two leaders were able to strengthen their ties to conclude an alliance leading in May 2020 to the proposal of a European recovery plan of 750 billion euros, largely financed by pooled European loans. They then worked together to wrest a historic agreement on this plan.
Emmanuel Macron has received in recent days at the Elysee the two favorites to succeed Angela Merkel in Berlin, the Social Democrat (SPD, center-left) Olaf Scholz and the Christian Democrat (CDU, center-right) Armin Laschet. On the side of Olaf Scholz, co-architect of the program for the use of debts and post-Covid European recovery, Paris can hope for less budgetary orthodoxy, especially if the Social Democrat governs with a majority firmly anchored on the left.
If Armin Laschet wins, Berlin could keep its foot on the brake on spending and debt.
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