Well, it is not the first time this pair have met but tonight’s working dinner between the French and German leaders will be their first after the brief summer truce on the eurozone in the markets, but with a potentially blustery autumn ahead.
François Hollande has made the trip to Berlin to meet Angela Merkel stressing one thing – France is not looking for a short-term fix and is putting fundamental issues like banking, economic and monetary union on the table.
What is being clearly signalled to markets already somewhat calmed by the tough-talking new Draghi regime at the BCE, is that the France-German tandem is back in the saddle and willing to drive Europe along in a far more co-ordinated way than during the five years of Nicolas Sarkozy’s reign, when communications with Berlin were sometimes difficult and confused.
As before the holidays, Greece remains at the top of the agenda, and Germany’s attitude to it and indeed, on policy to adopt throughout the EU. The volume is rising from the ranks of those who claim austerity is dragging economies into recession, and debt repayment conditions need to be eased. The Germans counter that this will only cost more money in the end.
But the new French government is also wary of turning the screw on its already underperfoming economy. Some are warning the Greek test case only proves the folly of cutting spending to boost growth.
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