'Two souls in one chest': Germany and France renew alliance strained by Ukraine

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By Euronews  with AP
The German, French and European Union flags flutter in the wind at the Chancellery in Berlin on April 29, 2019.
The German, French and European Union flags flutter in the wind at the Chancellery in Berlin on April 29, 2019.   -   Copyright  JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP or licensors

France and Germany met for talks on Sunday in a bid to patch up an alliance strained by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, among other things. 

Germany's entire cabinet went to Paris for a meeting on Europe's security, energy and other challenges as the pair tried to overcome their differences, while around 300 lawmakers gathered at Sorbonne University. 

"Germany and France... must become pioneers for the rebuilding of our Europe," said President Emmanuel Macron during a lyrical speech at the prestigious French university. 

He described the neighbours as "two souls in one chest".

The day coincides with the 60th anniversary of a treaty signed between the historical foes underpinning the European Union. 

'Fraternal couple'

Macron and his German counterpart Olaf Scholz held two rounds of talks at the Elysee Palace, first focusing on energy and economic policy, then moving on to defence. 

"The future, like the past, is based on the cooperation of our two countries", said Scholz, likening the pair to "the locomotive of a united Europe". 

Together they were capable of overcoming their "differences", he continued, adding that the "Franco-German engine" "purrs softly" and will "always transform controversies" into "convergent action". 

But behind the pomp lies a number of flashpoints between Berlin and Paris. 

Top Sunday's agenda, said officials, was devising a European response to US subsidies of electric car manufacturers and other green businesses, as part of President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act. 

A possible US-EU trade war has loomed for several months, with Brussels calling the €356 billion in assistance for American industry promised by Washington protectionist and discriminatory.

France wants Europe to counter what it considers an unfair US move. 

Paris is pushing for the EU to relax rules on state subsidies to quicken their allocation, simplify the bloc's support for investment and create an EU sovereign fund to boost green industries. 

Berlin, however, warns against protectionism.

The war in Ukraine

The European neighbours also discussed military aid to Ukraine, according to French and German officials who were not authorised to be publicly named. 

Both have given significant support, but Kyiv is now asking for heavy tanks and more powerful arms as Russia steps up its offensive. 

Differences in strategy have been exposed by the war, with Berlin currently under fire for refusing to give Ukraine the Leopard 2 battle tanks it craves.

At the Sorbonne, Scholz said France and Germany would continue "to provide Ukraine, as long as necessary, with all the support it needs". 

"Vladimir Putin's imperialism will not win," he insisted.

Further frictions surround how to deal with the resulting energy crisis and punishing inflation, as well as future military investment.

Sunday’s gathering was the first such in-person joint government meeting since 2019. It was originally scheduled for October, but repeatedly delayed.

Officials marked the 60th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty signed by French President and wartime leader Charles de Gaulle and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer on 22 Jan 1963.

Both Macron and Scholz called for a more "sovereign" Europe, achieved by investing more in defence and industry.