Only hours after being sworn-in for a second term as chancellor, Angela Merkel was being welcomed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
The symbolically important visit is a sign of the modern day closeness of France and Germany. Indeed there are suggestions to change one of France’s most solenm national occasions, the Armistice Day Commemorations, into a celebration of friendship. Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters: “We have given projects like education, research and the future full priority in our goals for the coalition for the next four years, and economic growth. And that is exactly what France and Germany can discuss even more closely than we have up until now.” Earlier Merkel officially took up the reigns of power after being backed by Germany’s parliament. But any hopes of a honeymoon period will have been quickly dispelled as she faced renewed criticism that she was not doing enough to bring Germany’s widening budget deficit under control. Her new coalition government – which was also sworn in before holding its first cabinet meeting -recently unveiled a policy programme which includes billions of euros of tax relief but little information of how the cuts are going to be financed.