French, German leaders meet amid rift over energy, economy

Oct 25, 2022, 11:23 AM | Updated: Oct 26, 2022, 1:15 pm
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, sits next to Denis Shmyhal (M), Prime Minister of Ukraine, and Peter...

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, sits next to Denis Shmyhal (M), Prime Minister of Ukraine, and Peter Adrian, President of the DIHK, duringthe German-Ukrainian Business Forum "Rebuild Ukraine", in Berlin, Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. (Michael Kappeler/Pool Photo via AP)

(Michael Kappeler/Pool Photo via AP)

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz thrashed it out for three hours in Paris on Wednesday in hopes of bridging gaps between the two neighbors and key European Union allies on issues including energy, defense and the economy.

Macron and Scholz discussed their differences over a working lunch at the Elysee presidential palace. In a tweet, Scholz called the meeting on European energy supply, rising prices and joint defense projects “very good and important.”

“Germany and France stand close together and are approaching the challenges together,” Scholz added.

Officials from both countries stressed the two leaders’ forged a broad agreement on which direction they want to see developments heading even as Europe struggles with the consequences of the war in Ukraine. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they’re not authorized to speak about the meeting publicly, did not disclose details.

The French presidency hailed the talks as “constructive,” adding that Macron and Scholz focused on forging a “close working relationship” on issues over the middle and long-term.

The leaders agreed to set up working groups on the three key issues of energy, defense and innovation, the French presidency said.

In an interview on France 2 television Wednesday evening, Macron said he discussed with Scholz the idea of a tax credit aimed at encouraging Europeans to buy electric vehicles built on the continent, on the model of the recent measure applied in the U.S.

France and Germany, both major car manufacturers, must “get together” on this subject, Macron said, adding that he saw some “true convergence” with Scholz to move forward on the issue.

“I never believed in Europe as an open supermarket,” he said. “So yes, we must protect our industry and keep the aids for vehicles that are made in Europe.”

Initially, a French-German joint Cabinet meeting had been scheduled Wednesday as well, but it was postponed until January. The governments in Paris and Berlin both said they needed more time to reach consensus on some bilateral issues.

French-German government meetings are usually held at least once a year to coordinate policies. The last one was held in May 2021 via videoconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

French government spokesman Olivier Veran said Scholz’ s visit shows both countries’ ability “sometimes to be able to get over difficulties … when the priorities of one country do not necessarily converge with the priorities of the other.”

“The strength of the French-German couple is to always be able to get along together and move Europe forward,” he added.

French-German divergences are not unusual. The countries, home to the eurozone’s biggest economies, are used to having different stances on defense, energy and other topics.

“My wish has always been to preserve European unity and also the friendship and the alliance between France and Germany,” Macron said last week in Brussels before an EU meeting. “I think it’s not good for Germany nor for Europe that it isolates itself,” he added.

Asked Friday about the apparent tensions, Scholz said that cooperation with France is “very intensive” and stressed that he holds frequent meetings with Macron.

“There are questions on which we have common points of view and drive things forward,” he said. “You can see, for example, that it is Germany and France who repeatedly look at how we can achieve progress to support Ukraine.”

Some other EU member states have criticized Germany in recent months for defending its own national interests over European priorities.

Many, including France and Italy, pointed to the lack of coordination with Germany over its 200 billion euro ($199 billion) subsidy plan to help households and businesses cope with high energy prices.

Some eastern European countries criticized Berlin for being too slow in providing weapons to Ukraine. Poland and the Baltic countries expressed concerns when Germany appeared to hesitate on granting Ukraine candidate status for EU membership.

Berlin and Paris have a decades-long history of bilateral irritants and European disputes that coexist with the countries’ friendship and cooperation.

France and Germany have been described as the “motor” of the EU. They have always found compromises even in difficult terrain since they co-founded, with four other countries, the forerunner of the EU in 1957.

They will celebrate in January the 60th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty that set the tone for the two countries’ relations after centuries of fierce rivalry and bloody conflict.

Last week, as EU leaders were seeking a deal to make sure the runaway cost of gas doesn’t further tank struggling EU economies, Germany and France were in opposing camps — Berlin expressing doubts and holding off plans for a price cap, while most others wanted to push on.

Scholz said any dispute was on the method, not the goal.

Defense also has been a recurrent issue, with Paris considering Berlin was not doing enough in the area for years — until the war in Ukraine led Germany to announce a major boost to military spending.

Earlier this month, fifteen countries agreed on German-led plans for an improved European air defense system, the so-called European Sky Shield Initiative.

France did not join the project. The French Mamba system is already part of NATO’s integrated air and missile defense.

____

Moulson wrote from Berlin. AP writer Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to the story.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A Boeing 747-8, Boeing's new passenger plane, takes its first flight, Sunday, March 20, 2011...
Associated Press

Boeing’s last 747 to roll out of Washington state factory

After more than half a century, Boeing is set to roll its last 747 out of a Washington state factory on Tuesday.
9 hours ago
President Joe Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, in Was...
Associated Press

WNBA star Griner freed in swap for Russian arms dealer Bout

WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia freed WNBA star Brittney Griner on Thursday in a dramatic prisoner exchange, as the U.S. released notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout but failed to win freedom for another American, Paul Whelan, who has been jailed for nearly four years. The swap, at a time of heightened tensions over Ukraine, achieved […]
9 hours ago
FILE - A flyer seeking information about the killings of four University of Idaho students who were...
Associated Press

Idaho police seek car seen near site where 4 students killed

Police are asking for help finding the occupant of a car that was seen near where four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death last month, saying that person could have "critical information" about the case.
1 day ago
Associated Press

US woman who killed UK teen in crash gets suspended sentence

LONDON (AP) — An American woman who left the U.K. after killing a teenager in a road accident was given an eight-month suspended prison sentence on Thursday, though she declined to come to Britain for the court hearing. Anne Sacoolas, 45, was sentenced over an August 2019 accident in which 19-year-old Harry Dunn was killed […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Federal judge blasts Miami prosecutors for spying on defense

MIAMI (AP) — A judge in Miami has admonished federal prosecutors for instructing a cooperating witness to spy on his co-defendants — and then lying to the court to cover up misconduct he said violated their constitutional right to a fair trial. In an excoriating ruling unsealed Wednesday, Judge Darrin Gayles said Assistant U.S. Attorney […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

As COVID-19 becomes routine, Africa readies for next crisis

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Building on the experience of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, African countries are strengthening health systems to prepare for the next health crisis, the World Health Organization’s Africa director said Thursday. At the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, some of the 54 countries in the continent of 1.3 billion people […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
French, German leaders meet amid rift over energy, economy