France and Germany in search of unity in the face of the return of the American partner

Since the election of Joe Biden, Paris and Berlin have been seeking their marks vis-à-vis Washington, more slowly across the Rhine.

US President Joe Biden announced the freezing of the plan to withdraw US troops stationed in Germany, which had been outlined by his predecessor Donald Trump. Berlin welcomed this decision which “will serve the interests of both parties», Welcomed the Chancellery: the approximately 35,000 US soldiers, in particular deployed in Bavaria and in Baden-Württemberg since the fall of IIIe Reich, will remain stationed there. This is the first concrete manifestation of the diplomatic turn initiated by the new American administration. The latter intends to resume dialogue with the European Union and requests its support.

For the rest, it is clear that the two main locomotives of the Old Continent, France and Germany, are struggling to keep up with the new rhythm drawn by Washington. At the end of a bilateral Defense Council organized by videoconference on Friday, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron delivered few concrete answers to the priorities displayed by Joe Biden.

“Stay in dialogue with Russia”

«There is no alignment strategy with anyone», Explained the French head of state during a joint press conference. Emmanuel Macron’s remark concerned China, which Washington now elevates to the rank of “systemic rival »Without elaborating his doctrine. Very cautious and evasive on the subject, Paris and Berlin do not intend to stick this label to the regime of Xi Jinping. From the fight against climate change – in which Beijing is actively collaborating – to the issue of human rights, “we have a plurality of relations with China», Insisted the French president.

This concept of “alignment” could easily be applied to other cases. Thus, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron played down Moscow’s decision on Thursday to expel German, Polish and Swedish diplomats accused of having participated in the pro-Navalny protests. These practices are “far from the principles of the rule of law», Soberly commented the Chancellor who does not intend to question the Nord Stream gas pipeline project. However, the latter, which must supply Europe with Russian gas via German territory, is viewed with a negative eye in Washington and is the subject of sanctions by the American Congress. For his part, Joe Biden indicated that the United States “will no longer allow themselves to face the aggressions of RussiaCiting police repression of protests and computer attacks attributed to Moscow.

We must stay in dialogue with Russia

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Conversely, and after a few days of perceptible hesitation in French democracy, Emmanuel Macron supported the German approach which consists in seeing gas as a tool for “energetic transition»In the European Union’s overall supply policy. “We must stay in dialogue with Russia», Insisted on her side Angela Merkel, together with her French counterpart.

Since the election of Joe Biden, Paris and Berlin have been seeking their marks vis-à-vis Washington, more slowly across the Rhine. In recent days, the CDU has been pressing Angela Merkel “to quickly initiate talks (with Washington, NDLR) in order to formulate a common policy“. The chancellery hesitates to engage, as Paris invites it, in the path of “strategic autonomyIn security matters, which would be the European counterpart to NATO’s policy developed under the American umbrella. Several German officials are worried about the operational state of the Bundeswehr, which they consider deplorable as regards the material, and not very compatible with any hint of security autonomy.

In the immediate term, the two partners are trying to advance the joint project of the aircraft of the future (Scaf). The obstacles are expected to be overcome in the coming weeks, the two leaders promised. It would then be a European, concrete step in the face of Washington.

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