German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s outburst over Ukraine support
Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz – the leaders of France and Germany respectively – “just don’t get on”, an insider has said, warning their lack of “chemistry” was hampering the cohesion of the European Union.
The relationship between the pair is under the microscope after an apparent negotiation impasse in several key areas, the Financial Times reported, with several officials suggesting several high-priority matters had been impacted.
For example, reform of the EU electricity market is understood to have been delayed by squabbling between Paris and Berlin over nuclear power, which forms a central plank of French energy policy.
Other areas include negotiations related to the size of supplement to the EU’s six-year shared budget, referred to as the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) – which includes financial support to Ukraine – and rules related to how much money members of the EU27 are permitted to borrow.
Sources suggested the strained relationship between the French President and the German Chancellor was at least partly to blame.
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One who was present at discussions between the two explained: “They just don’t seem to get on. And that’s at the heart of this.”
Tensions, which are believed to have been simmering for a year, have not been helped by Germany’s cumbersome coalition government, with Mr Scholz having to work closely with the Greens, led by Annalena Baerbock.
Mujtaba Rahman, Europe managing director at Eurasia Group risk consultancy, explained: “Scholz and Macron are both confronting significant domestic challenges, their chemistry isn’t great and the bilateral institutional and senior official links are also quite strained.
“This has aggravated their ability to play nice together in the EU.”
Mr Macron and Mr Scholz will meet several times this month, including at a summit in Spain this week.
Another official suggested: “The two of them just need to sit down in a room together and hash [things] out,” said one of the senior EU officials.
“Absent that, it’s pointless for the rest of them trying to find consensus.”
A third added: “No it is not working and yes it is worrying,” said another senior EU official.
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“You can’t get things done if the two of them aren’t seeing the bigger picture.”
Earlier this week, David McAllister, the German MEP and a prominent figure in the German Christian Democrats, criticised both Mr SPD leader Mr Scholz and Mr Macron for what he described as their lack of communication when it came to key decisions on battle tanks and fighter jets, and a future trade deal with Latin America.
Commenting, former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib, now a member of the Reform Party, told Express.co.uk: “The European Union project, as with the European Convention of Human Rights, was only ever conceived because France and Germany could not be trusted to be at peace with each other.
“The United Kingdom did not just liberate Europe, it has since acted as a stabilising force.
“Now that we have left, it would appear the Franco-German axis, so important for European unity, is fraying.”
Mr Habib added: “Frankly, the greater the fissures, the better.
“The EU is an anti-democratic supranational selfish bureaucratic body.
“The sooner it collapses, the better. Who’d have thought Brexit would help destroy the EU?”
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