The fiction of the Franco-German "couple" shattered during the Brexit special summit on Wednesday and Thursday. While there have often been deep disagreements between the two banks of the Rhine, this is the first time that Angela Merkel has publicly displayed it and without excessive diplomatic caution. Chancellor judged "incomprehensible" the "reasoning" Emmanuel Macron's opinion that the deadline for a final Brexit was too long to be extended, while she was ready to give Theresa May another year to give her time to try to get the divorce agreement with The union.
The "reasoning" of the French head of state is simple however: the Union, faced with other challenges, can not afford to be held hostage by a British political class unable to implement the decision of a referendum he himself provoked … Finally, a compromise was found – extension until 31 October – but the German government did not hide his anger at the resistance of a partner of habit more docile. Norbert Röttgen, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee (CDU), did not hesitate to accuse Macron, in an avenging tweet, of "Give priority to his domestic policy interests on European unity". For it is well known that Berlin never has any ulterior motive for domestic politics, as the Greek crisis brutally managed to show so as not to frighten German voters …
Curiously, the French media pointed out the isolation of Paris – which was supported by Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, Malta, but also, in second place, by Austria and Denmark -, accusing it almost not to have played collectively by refusing to align with Berlin. "It is incredible that we are presented as impediments to go around in circles while we were the impediments to sink in circles in the face of collective weakness", they say to the Elysee. A position that Macron is preparing to assume on Monday by voting against the opening of trade negotiations with the United States, also initiated under pressure from Germany, which fears that Donald Trump does not tax its car imports. Relaunching a substitute for the defunct Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TTIP) is probably not the best idea to be two months from the European elections, while everywhere the pressure of demagogic and isolationist parties grows …
Emmanuel Macron seems to have mourned the Franco-German relationship after long believed. He realized that the Christian Democrats of the CDU-CSU, but also the Social Democrats, defend above all German interests disguised in European interests, as it is now analyzed in France. For a year and a half, the head of state has continued to receive rebuffs on almost all his projects (creation of a budget of the euro area, a Parliament of the euro zone, a tax on digital giants, a Europe of defense, etc.). Now there is no question of pretending or giving birth to compromises that weaken the Union: if Berlin does not want more Europe or only a German Europe, it must assume it. But Paris is determined not to play the pass-dishes in the name of a Union that has more European than the name.
Jean Quatremer BRUSSELS (UE), from our correspondent