26th July 2017
In the latest in our Summer series of blogposts from our junior staff, Benjamin Benjelloun, Account Executive, writes about the possible future Franco-German relationship under President Macron and Chancellor Merkel.
Angela Merkel has “survived” more French Presidents than any other post-war German Chancellor.
This isn’t just to do with the length of her Chancellorship (12 years), but has more to do with relative political instability in France since 2007.
Merkel has embraced many varieties of the Franco-German relationship, such as enjoying – or suffering - the respect of the elder statesman Jacques Chirac for a year and a half and building a very close friendship with Nicolas Sarkozy, with whom she found compromises for a common EU response to the financial and European sovereign debt crisis.
The past 4 years under François Hollande cooled the relationship, due to diverging political convictions and policy priorities, but also because both didn’t see the necessity of cooperating closely despite the slow economic recovery and horrific terrorist attacks in both countries.
The newly elected President Emmanuel Macron seems to be the last chance for Chancellor Merkel to install a renewed vigour into the Paris-Berlin axis.
First of all, because Merkel probably has only one more term left in her, and the German political landscape will change markedly once she leaves the stage, but also because although Macron beat the far-right in the recent election, they still retained over a third of the vote.
Both Macron and Merkel know that in the next 4 years they have to prove to their own citizens that the EU is worth fighting for.
During recent bilateral meetings, both leaders emphasised alignment on topics including trade agreements, a common asylum system, reforming labour mobility rules, and promoting joint investment projects.
However, the two countries have major hurdles to overcome on defence and economic governance, with long-term goals being EU military cooperation and a Eurozone budget.
To quote Chancellor Merkel’s famous use of the German word “alternativlos” (literally – without alternatives) – who else is better placed to lead Europe in an age of Brexit and Trump, than the EU’s two most powerful countries?
The above represents the view of the author and not necessarily that of Grayling.
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