This has been the tradition since Konrad Adenauer. After being officially invested by the deputies of the Bundestag, the Chancellor of the German Federal Republic reserves his very first visit to the President of the French Republic, who as soon as elected returns the favor. The Social Democrat Olaf Scholz is no exception to the rule: barely confirmed in his functions, he must go to meet Emmanuel Macron, this Friday, December 10, the day after the presentation of the French presidency of the Council of the EU (PFUE), in the first half of 2022.
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A well-known face
It was the favored scenario in Paris. The Élysée had very discreetly marked its preference for the Social Democrat last September, when he was still only a candidate for the chancellery. Olaf Scholz was entitled to his photo alongside President Emmanuel Macron two days before his conservative competitor, Armin Laschet (CDU). If Olaf Scholz, unlike his rival, does not speak French, he is broken with the delicate exercise of links with Paris. Before becoming Minister of Finance and Vice-Chancellor, in 2015 he was responsible for Franco-German cultural relations, a function established under the Elysee Treaty of 1963. Mayor of Hamburg, he launched the creation of a Franco-German high school.
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In 2018, becoming number 2 in the government, he maintained good relations with his French counterpart, Bruno Le Maire, to lay the groundwork for the post-covid European recovery plan of 750 billion euros. For the first time, Germany accepted the principle of European debt, however exceptionally.
Many points of convergence
With Olaf Scholz, France will be able to count on a partner who relies on the Paris-Berlin axis, estimates Paul Maurice, researcher at Ifri, reading the coalition contract. “The word France is mentioned only once, and the Franco-German term only twice, but the chapter on Europe makes many implicit references to it. This is the case with the concept of “strategic sovereignty”, even if Germany reasons more in technological and industrial matters than in terms of defense and foreign policy. “
In the future, Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz could agree on certain institutional developments of the EU. The point will be made in May, after the presidential election in France. Monday, December 6, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Jacques-Delors Institute, Emmanuel Macron said he was in favor, like Berlin, for the creation of a right of initiative for MEPs. For the time being, this is a prerogative of the Commission, which does not come directly from the vote of the Europeans.
No exclusive relationship
On many other subjects, Paris has yet to get closer to the rest of the German government. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Alliance 90 / Les Verts) is to accompany Olaf Scholz on his trip to Paris. During the campaign, she had not wished to be received at the Élysée. The ecologist had even proposed to break the tradition, by privileging Brussels if it was elected chancellor. But the Elysee Palace will above all have to convince the liberal finance minister Christian Lindner, who did not come to Paris when he was in the running for the chancellery. Paris would now like to extricate itself from the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact, so that it can invest.
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“Emmanuel Macron must expect resistance, he has every interest in continuing the work of rapprochement started with Italy on November 26, when he signed with Prime Minister Mario Draghi (former parton of the ECB) the Treaty of the Quirinal “, believes Christian Lequesne, specialist in European policies at Sciences Po Paris. Spain could also weigh in the balance. The future of the recovery would then be played less on a Paris-Berlin axis than on a triangulation, sometimes with Rome, Madrid or others.