Tribune by Bernard Valero: enhancing Franco-German relations …

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As he announced, the President of the Republic will soon make his first trip abroad on his new mandate to Berlin to meet with the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz.

1) While the German political class expressed their satisfaction after the re-election of Emmanuel Macron and its relief after his victory against the National Rally candidate, this visit:

. Be part of today an important biorhythm moment of the Franco-German couple. In fact all the German chancellors (Adenauer, Brandt, Schmidt, Kohl, Schroeder, Merkel) -and Scholz received in Paris on December 10, 2021 after his election- continue to cultivate this tradition of direction in Berlin-Paris, while President Sarkozy, followed by his two successors, set the Paris-Berlin dimension in 2007.

. It aims to reaffirm France’s affiliation with Franco-German relations which, since the Élysée Treaty on January 22, 1963 and, most recently, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle on January 22, 2019, is the fundamental basis of European policy in France.

. It will be an opportunity for the German Chancellor to give a warm welcome to the French Head of State. Olaf Scholz knew French very well, where he had the opportunity to work very well when he was Mrs. Scholz’s finance minister. Merkel, but also when she was the 2015 plenipotentiary minister in charge of Franco-German cultural relations. In honor of his Francophilia, we also don’t forget that in his capacity as mayor of Hamburg, he was a passionate promoter of the Franco-German high school project in his city launched in 2016.

4 major challenges facing Europe.

2) A visit that takes on a new dimension in tackling the 4 major challenges facing Europe.

. To help maintain the resilience shown by Europeans during the Covid crisis, but also to continue the path of post-pandemic European resilience that will allow Europe’s 27 economies to overcome this unique crisis.

. To deal with the geostrategic turmoil caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which, since February 24, 2022, has questioned the security of Europeans, their relations with NATO and transatlantic relations, their national and collective efforts in terms of defense.

. With the vision that effective and urgent implementation of the European Commission’s plan to accelerate the EU’s green transition and launch Europe on the path to carbon neutrality by 2050 is possible.

. With the aim of consolidating the foundation of democratic values ​​on which the founding of Europe was based, there is now a threat of the rise of nationalism and the rise of extremism.

3) After 16 years of Merkel, the French have the opportunity to make a “reset” of their relations with Germany, by accompanying, or even optimizing, the 3 major changes that have been made in Berlin in recent years:

The transfer of the prosecutor.

Faced with a health crisis, and the result of a Franco-German initiative, the European recovery plan, adopted in 2020, will remain a major milestone in European construction, primarily due to its size (750 billion euros) but also, and above all. , because it provides, for the first time, the possibility for the European Commission to borrow in the financial markets for 27. It ” opportunity of the century », According to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission, marks a real strategic change for Germany that has violated the common debt ban.

The challenge now is to put this financial partnership between the 27 in the service of a new stage of European integration, a vision in which the French and Germans have an interest in moving forward.

The turn of the military.

Just three days after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and after clearly seeing the weakness of its armed forces, Germany created a double surprise:

. By deciding to invest 100 billion euros to bring its army to the base, and to bring the annual defense budget to more than 2% of its GDP.

. By deciding to help Ukraine militarily, including the supply of heavy equipment, as Germany has never done before.

Dictated by the extraordinary circumstances, which are now leading Europe to find itself facing a major strategic disruption, these initiatives, seen from Paris, were welcomed when the French were arguing. , in vain, which for many years France could carry the weight of the defense effort. in Europe itself.

These two decisions present two challenges to France:

. Sure this new posture on Berlin belongs to the European defense framework, but it’s not an infinite conclusion given Germany’s visceral connection to the transatlantic link.

. Ensure that Franco-German projects for cooperation in the defense industry are put back on track if they seem to have gone too far recently: the Scaf air combat system, ground weapons, maritime patrol aircraft, drones.

Energy transfer

Perhaps the most critical shift in the negotiations, which was the reduction, ultimately the loss, of Germany’s reliance against Russia for its energy supply. The right to inventory Merkel’s years in which the Germans were involved shows how some of the strategic energy choices have led Germany to suffer today from two dependencies:

. A reliance on fossil fuel due to the abandonment of nuclear power.

. Russia’s dependence for its energy imports (55% for gas, 50% for coal, 35% for oil).

The big question facing Germany today is knowing when and how it will gain Russian influence, gas remains the most dangerous point.

Dialogue and consultation between Paris and Berlin on this issue is especially necessary because what is at risk is the stability of Europe’s leading economy, and France’s leading economic partner.

Conclusion ….

This visit to be made by the President of the Republic of Germany may be anything but customary or ceremonial. In fact, it will come at a time when Russia’s tanks and missiles threaten the fate of Europe.

In a unique situation, a unique response. So, why not put the Franco-German couple at the pinnacle of this historic transition currently being experienced on the continent of Europe: a visit to Berlin, yes of course. But why not extend it to the joint visit of the President of France and the German Chancellor to kyiv? And why not do it on May 9, Europe Day, in this Europe so hated by Vladimir Putin who, on the same day, will release threats and pathetic cries of victory in Red Square?

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