This was Paris’ demand for Berlin. Don’t hang around. Four years ago, the German government took six months to form. Such a delay would have weighed down the French presidency of the EU, whose useful life – presidential election requires – will not be spread over six months, but from January to March. Here is the Elysee reassured. The Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals took only two short months to build their coalition.
“The whole game of the German government is to interfere as little as possible in the French campaign, without cutting itself off from the possibility of advancing in this rotating presidency of the EU which will be its instrument”, explains Jens Althoff, director of the Paris office of the Heinrich-Böll Foundation, with environmental sensitivity. The latter highlights the differences: “France and Germany are taking different paths to achieve carbon neutrality. “ Berlin is counting on 80% renewable energies by 2030, while Paris intends to reinvest in nuclear power, defended in Brussels as a transitional energy.
“It’s not the biggest bone of contention”, says Frank Baasner, director of the Franco-German Institute in Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart. He expects tough budget discussions. The new finance minister, Christian Lindner, leader of the liberal FDP party, has succeeded in forcing a return to the stability pact that Paris would like to amend. “The common European debt as a rule, it is not tomorrow the day before”, indicates Frank Baasner, with reference to Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to extend the post-Covid recovery plan granted by Berlin – on an exceptional basis.
The debt brake will not prevent investments: 50 billion euros per year to convert the economy to climate and digital requirements. There is still a need for manpower. Germany plans to bring in 400,000 foreign workers per year for ten years. This bet on open migration comes in a context of tension in France. “Berlin could agree to postpone the subject to May, so as not to spoil the debates”, underlines Frank Baasner. The arrival of the ecologist Annalena Baerbock as Minister of Foreign Affairs announces strengthened collaborations with the Quai d’Orsay, according to the method of Joschka Fischer, the first Green to occupy this function (1998-2005).
Regarding defense policies, the Élysée would like to endow Europe with a “Compass”. A summit is scheduled for March. The term of “Strategic sovereignty” used in Berlin shade the“Autonomy” defended in Paris. If Germany continues to make NATO a pillar « indispensable », she wants to strengthen her “Capacity for action”. Until then, the Social Democrats had always ruled out the use of armed drones. They are now determined to equip themselves with this material, deemed necessary.