Between Paris and Berlin, an agreement under tension

Christian Hartmann / REUTERS

By Thomas Wieder and Sylvie Kauffmann

Posted today at 6:00 p.m.

Still missed! Certainly, Paris has no luck with this German team. While at the Elysée we were just starting to get used to “AKK”, to find, after a difficult start, the runner-up nominated by Angela Merkel “Much clearer”, to rejoice that she “Put substance into your thinking”now she’s throwing in the towel. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced Monday (February 10) that she is giving up running for Angela Merkel’s office and that she will step down as president of their party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). So we will have to go back and prepare to work with someone else. Because even if she keeps the defense portfolio in government, “AKK” is now a weakened minister in a breathless coalition. All in a late reign atmosphere with a chancellor still as popular in her country, but on departure.

Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel after a meeting of European officials on June 29, 2017 in Berlin.
Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel after a meeting of European officials on June 29, 2017 in Berlin. GUIDO BERGMANN / BILDERDIENST

Since coming to power in the spring of 2017, Emmanuel Macron and his entourage have struggled to decipher the evolution of Berlin politics. After betting on Angela Merkel, with whom good contact had been established during the presidential campaign, Paris hoped that, in her last mandate, the German Chancellor, anxious to write her mark in history, would finally choose to be daring on Europe. The young French president, himself burning with audacity, was ready to accompany him on this path.

A Germany that has become “multipolar”

Things, we know, happened differently in the fall of 2017. Emmanuel Macron gave a speech on Europe on September 26 at the Sorbonne brimming with ambition, when, on the other side of the Rhine, an electoral earthquake shook traditional parties and brought the far right to the Bundestag for the first time since the Second World War. Six months of laborious negotiations to form a coalition block any initiative in Berlin: German silence in the face of French proposals to relaunch Europe is experienced in Paris as a cold shower. It was therefore necessary to reorient the strategy, to learn to work differently with a chancellor who had become more careful than ever on the domestic scene to stay in power, but still influential in the European Union (EU), all while maneuvering on political ground German in perpetually unstable equilibrium, as the surprise renunciation of “AKK” has just recalled. Germany today is multipolar, notes a senior French official. 1,001 channels, phone calls and contacts are required to complete a file after three or four weeks. “

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