Officials deny there are problems with Franco-German relations, but Chancellor Scholz’s focus on domestic politics has unsettled some European lawmakers.
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New tensions between France and Germany are challenging relations between the two countries at a time when their cohesion is crucial to Europe’s broader policy in addressing the energy crisis.
The two leaders will meet in Paris on Wednesday, but the meeting has all but been cancelled.
Initially intended to be a broader discussion involving government ministers, it was postponed and eventually turned into a mere meeting between the two leaders.
Alberto Alemanno, professor of EU law at HEC Business School, told CNBC in an email.
He added that the actions of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz “are creating the deepest divisions within the Commonwealth”.
France and Germany are the two largest economies of the European Union and two of the founding countries of this political group. Their solidarity is essential for EU policy-making.
France and Germany are divided on how to tackle the energy crisis. France, for example, defended capping European gas prices, while the German government only agreed to do so last week with some conditions.
Germany also approved a €200bn ($200.2bn) relief package to help German businesses and families, raising more money at EU level and helping European countries with less fiscal space. It has been criticized for blocking the measures of
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the plan urged the eurozone to work together and avoid fragmenting the 19 countries that share a common currency.
In addition, there are concerns within the wider EU about Mr Scholz’s visit to China and his consideration of a deal with a country seen as a rival to European nations. There is also the issue of Germany’s long delays in delivering arms to Ukraine.
“The relationship is clearly tense. The German government is largely to blame for this development,” Jacob Kierkegaard, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund think tank, said in an email.
“Mr Scholz is leading Germany’s first ever tripartite coalition, and in addition to having coalition members in the Green Party and the FDP, who are often ideologically opposed, he is more ‘domestic’ than previous German chancellors. We have less control over politics,” he added.
French officials, however, deny tensions of any kind, but admit that the German tripartite coalition is delaying any kind of agreement.
“This has been blown out of proportion,” a French official, who was not named due to the sensitivity of the matter, told CNBC of tensions between Paris and Berlin.
The change to the original rally was linked to calendar issues, with German ministers reportedly claiming it was a good week for family vacations. He said the postponement was “not associated with any kind of political difficulty”.
The same official added that “we are always in talks with Germany”, although at times both countries move “slower” than desired.
Nonetheless, they added that the German coalition, which had been installed since December, was relatively new and “there is a learning curve out there.”
“It takes a lot of time for them to find common ground,” the source said.
The German government was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.
“President Macron and I meet very often as far as cooperation with France is concerned,” Scholz said last week.
Analysts at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy, said there was a “growing dissatisfaction with Berlin” across Europe.
“Initially, criticism centered on what many EU officials perceived as limited military support for Berlin. [Kyiv]All member states are now beginning to criticize Germany’s fiscal and energy policies,” they said in a note on Tuesday.
“Disappointment in Berlin is in danger of actually undermining the EU’s most important bilateral relationship, the Franco-German alliance,” they added.