March 5, 2008
Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy both referred on Monday 3 March in Hanover to the friendship between the two countries, after a period of cool relations.
They announced agreement on Sarkozy’s ’Mediterranean Union’ project, originally opposed by the German Chancellor. No details were given and there will be a Franco-German proposal to next week’s European Council. Merkel has clearly persuaded Sarkozy that this is to be an EU project and not an intergovernmental one among a smaller number of Member States.
The idea is to bring together southern European and North African countries, as well as Israel and its Arab neighbours, to address counter-terrorism, immigration, energy, trade, water and sustainable development. Hopefully, this will result in a strengthening of the Barcelona process, whose object is to promote economic, political and social relations and eventually to create a free trade area.
A compromise was also reached on the Commission’s proposals to reduce new car emissions and a “common position” will shortly be announced.
This rapprochement is welcome, but it is hard to envisage that the personal chemistry of the current Franco-German couple will allow the relationship to match that of its predecessors, such as Chirac & Schroeder, Mitterand & Kohl and Giscard and Schmidt.Author : Stanley Crossick