Germany and France postpone bilateral summit due to differences in energy and defense
Berlin and Paris are forced to postpone a long-awaited bilateral summit amid differences in key policy areas such as defense and energy.
Politico writes about this, European Truth reports.
Just a day before the important EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, where leaders are expected to debate how to respond to skyrocketing energy prices, Germany and France announced that the annual Franco-German ministerial meeting scheduled for next Wednesday in Fontainebleau, south of Paris, will be moved to January.
Officially, both sides said that “difficulties in the agenda of some ministers” were the reason for the unexpected postponement of the bilateral cabinet meeting.
At least five ministers of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, including Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock, complained that next Wednesday would be a rare week when they could take a break with their children as they would have school holidays.
“This, however, seems to be an unconvincing argument when war rages on the continent. In fact, the reason for the delay lies in significant disagreements on energy and defense issues, which made it difficult for both sides to agree on a joint declaration that they planned to sign,” notes the edition.
Officials from both sides said talks between Paris and Berlin were particularly difficult on energy issues, such as the construction of the Midcat pipeline from the Iberian Peninsula to northern Europe.
There are also disagreements between the two countries over France’s demand for price caps on gas and electricity, and on defense issues such as the joint development of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) fighter jet.
Germany’s self-directed approach to injecting 200 billion euros into the German economy to cushion the impact of rising energy prices has also sparked anger in France, which believes Berlin should have consulted with its allies about such massive payments that could affect the domestic market.
An Élysée official confirmed that defense and energy are two areas where progress is needed and that Macron and Scholz will set a date for the next bilateral meeting when they meet in Brussels on Thursday.
Joint meetings of the Franco-German government have been held since 2003 at least once a year, but in 2020 they were canceled, and in 2021 they were held only via videoconference due to the coronavirus pandemic.