Paris and Berlin still disagree over how to strengthen the European Financial Stability Facility, EFSF, which is seen as vital for the future of the euro zone.
Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, hitched in tandem leading France and Germany, met in Frankfort yesterday, on the margins of a farewell ceremony for outgoing European Central Bank ECB president Jean Claude Trichet.
France wants the EFSF to be able to refinance directly with the ECB. But the bank and Germany are against that.
Analyst Vivien Pertusot, with the Brussels-based Institut Français de Relations Internationales, said: “In the current crisis the two countries are very close, though perhaps by common interest rather than ideology or to reinvigorate the couple. But we hear talk more and more of ‘Merkozy’, for a fairly simple reason: the increasing incidence of almost bilateral summits between France and Germany, to make the European Union dynamic again.”
Liberal-democrat MEP Alexander Graf Lambsdorff said that the Franco-German drive shaft is clearly getting more thrust out of Berlin because it packs more economic punch: “I believe that with this crisis it has become even clearer how Germany’s economic reforms of the past 10, 15, 20 years have reinforced its economic leadership. The consequence is a more pronounced lack of symmetry, at least economically, between the two countries. Politically, in foreign policy it is very obvious that the stronger actor is France, as Libya shows.”
Green party MEP Pascal Canfin felt that Berlin and Paris on their own cannot save the EU’s future: “I think that the political responsibilities that are in place today put national political agendas first. They make their choice according to national situations more than in the general European interest or according to a shared vision of Europe.”
European People’s Party MEP Jean-Paul Gauzès said that in the meantime, however, pragmatism is the guiding rule: “France and Germany have to be the driving force. Of course, it has to be done considerately, with tact, so other countries are not offended, but objectivity requires us to admit that the ideas are coming out of France and Germany today. It’s a question of making the others accept the ideas.”