Germany and France have long made for prickly partners at the center of the European Union. But a change of leadership in France – and perhaps a change of heart in Germany – might begin to change that.
The 30 Sec. ReadA key European alliance is getting a reboot – and all of Europe could feel the effect. French President Emmanuel Macron’s victory on a decisively pro-European platform has turned him into a beacon to those wishing to get the European Union beyond its Euroskeptic troubles. The 39-year-old former investment banker is seen as the best hope to strengthen reform-resistant France. But a change of heart in Germany, which has set the tone and the rules in Europe for the past decade, could be even more important. After years of hard adherence to long-term fiscal prudence, Germans are warming to the idea of helping Macron by using their country’s resources – built on trade surpluses – to invigorate France. While that would put Germany at greater financial risk, it could tame France’s high unemployment and bring its economy up to the speed of Germany’s – in turn bolstering the EU’s Franco-German motor. “Germany can be convinced to pay more if it sees itself as a beneficiary of reforms coming out of the national level too,” says Franziska Brantner, a federal lawmaker from the Green party. “Germany might need the EU to help it out one day too.”
By Rachel Stern