The Conference on the Future of Europe has concluded! The largest ever pan-European consultation with citizens presented its final report in the European Parliament on Europe Day, 9 May 2022. In response, French President Emmanuel Macron has said he will, at the June European Council Summit of EU leaders, raise the possibility a constitutional convention to discuss treaty change.

Following Macron’s remarks, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the German-French partnership “more important than ever as a motor and source of inspiration for the European project”. The two countries have pledged a joint consultation of ministers on the future of European integration, to be held in July following French legislative elections, so Paris and Berlin can adopt “one voice” on European reform.

On 28 April 2022, shortly after the French Presidential elections, we held an online panel discussion in German, with politicians and experts to discuss the future of Franco-German cooperation. Taking part were:

💬 Dr. Katarina Barley, former German Federal Minister and currently Vice-President of the European Parliament (SPD)

💬 Dr. Andreas Schwab, German Christian Democratic MEP

💬 Prof. Dr. Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet, Professor of Political Science at the University of Würzburg with a focus on European Studies and International Relations

💬 Théo Boucart, Head of the Media Department and former Vice-President of the Jeunes Européens (Young European Federalists) Strasbourg

The panel discussion itself was in German, but we’ve translated one question we received from Kostian into English for all you non-German speakers:

Europe is in the midst of a severe energy crisis where prices are increasing. France is ramping up its nuclear power as Germany is closing down their nuclear power plants. Does this show that there is not a unified approach between two of the most important EU countries when we talk about energy policies? Does that affect the EU Green Deal and the fight against climate change overall?

We had a response during the panel to this question from Prof. Dr. Gisela Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet, Professor of Political Science at the University of Würzburg, who said:

First of all, we must note that the specific energy mix that a Member State chooses is a national decision. As I said earlier, it is impossible to imagine countries that are more opposed to each other than Germany and France, and this is also evident in energy policy. Recently, we had the very controversial decision of the Commission to designate nuclear energy and gas as bridging technologies, i.e., in a way, as sustainable energy sources. Ms. Barley can certainly tell you a thing or two about how controversial this decision was and how much the implementation of this decision will continue to cause friction between Germany and France in the future.

In the context of the war in Ukraine – and accelerated by it – it now really does look as if the energy transition must be an absolute priority in European action in the coming months. This means not only reducing emissions in the sense of fighting climate change, but also promoting independence in the sense of the EU’s strategic sovereignty. And I have the impression that right now the opinion is: ‘Everything that annoys Putin; everything that promotes reductions in gas and oil imports is welcome at the moment’.

I would say that Macron is really lucky that the very controversial decision in Germany to see nuclear energy as a bridge to sustainability – that is very difficult for a German Social Democrat or Green to bear – is somewhat lost in this great challenge. And I would also say that the EU must become even more united. But that would mean that the decision on the energy mix would not have to remain exclusively in the hands of the nation state. Fine, but can any of you imagine that we – amid the current crisis – change the treaties? That is beyond my European political imagination!

So I think that we will have to live with these contradictions and tensions for some time to come. I don’t see any way out of it. I would only refer again to the priority: We must get rid of CO2 emissions, we have to get rid of our dependence on energy imports, and then, in the spirit of great pragmatism, we might also have to put up with the nuclear power plants and the restarted German coal-fired power plants – that is also part of the truth. I don’t see much more progress in terms of new competences for the EU.

We also had a response to Kostian from German Christian Democratic MEP Dr. Andreas Schwab:

The caution advised by Mrs. Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet can only be objectively supported. That is also the first point I would like to make. I believe that everyone who deals with Franco-German relations comes to reflective conclusions. Just like Mrs. Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet. But there are also those who, in this context, keep drawing attention to themselves with allegations that Mrs. von der Leyen is being used by Mr. Macron to weaken Germany. There is a whole series of rather absurd voices on Franco-German relations that we do not mention here. Therefore, I would like to do so. That is simply nonsense! We talk about all issues, even in a party-political controversial way, but in the end, we try to come to a solution in which both countries and all citizens from Germany and France and Europe succeed.

In this respect, one must understand Mrs. Müller-Brandeck-Bocquet’s cautious assessment. Of course, the French also want to manage their energy supply well. And they understand that the Germans no longer want nuclear power. But, of course, they say: ‘If the gas is to flow from Russia, there must be an alternative. And you can’t be too dogmatic about that, at least for a transitional period. In this respect, I believe that the core problem of the taxonomy decision is that the expansion between the connectors of the member states is not massively expanded at the same time. For only then does a uniformity of access to the capital markets make sense if the energy can actually flow without problems. And we have to push the French a little harder to build more interconnectors to Spain and Germany. There is European funding for this. But you have to be realistic about it. More needs to happen here.

Ms. Barley rightly pointed out that this recovery package was a big step. And as much as we need to praise Scholz and Merkel on the one hand and Macron on the other, it must of course be said that the agreement was an agreement between the governments. Parliamentarians would like it if parliaments were even more involved in this. In this respect, this Franco-German cooperation is incredibly important, but of course, when push comes to shove, in recent years – and I say this deliberately provocatively – it has been more intergovernmental than genuine European parliamentary cooperation. So, we must tackle this in Berlin, where most colleagues are not so keen on changing anything

Is the Franco-German engine of European integration restarting? Or do differences in areas such as energy policy show that a united approach to EU reform is impossible? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: Bundesregierung/Bergmann
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.



94 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Paul

    Again ???? ….when did they stop trying…..economically Germany is risking to be a busted flush…Macron’s dreams of a more federal eu state with self sufficiency in power generation, defense etc will hit the buffers & a move towards majority voting with potentially “associated membershio” will alienate eastern Europe who are already very suspicious.
    As we’ve seen with the recent egs of financial crash, pandemic & now war in Europe….events will always overtake plans & its unclear wherher the EU has the structures or the political will to respond.

  2. avatar
    Apolinaras

    In recent circumstances words “leadership”, “France” and “Germany” in one sentence at best are laughable.

  3. avatar
    Michael

    I would prefer to see the word “integration” off the table but focus on better cooperation. As for my country, Britain, it would be nice to see a much more positive approach to political and economic cooperation with the EU but I don’t see much hope for as long as Boris Johnson is in power.

    • avatar
      JT HK

      Cannot agree more. Boris Johnson appeared to have turned himself to the assistant of the American president Joe Biden and wasting his time and effort everywhere except in his own country. Spend more time to see how to serve the British people for post-Covid social and economic recovery.

    • avatar
      Michael

      Thanks

  4. avatar
    JT HK

    If Macron and Olaf Scholz are following the led of non-EU countries the US and the UK, how can they lead Europe again?

  5. avatar
    JT HK

    Macron’s top priority to secure Europe peace and prosperity with like minded leaders. European state abandoned its neutrality and forming military alliance with non-EU members with the intention to contain Russia would drag EU military conflict like Ukraine. These states are potential ground of military conflict with non-EU states and should not be accepted into the EU family. The damage of over-expansion is increasingly conspicuous.

    • avatar
      Žygis

      who cares. As long as we wont change russia to democratic, we will have problems in europe. The best time to do it is NOW

    • avatar
      JT HK

      If democracy means putting US proxy to rule, only brain-dead would still talking about democracy. Democracy of the West has reduced to election, all other elements such as liberty, equality, fraternity and legality have been sacrificed by power struggle of political parties and politicians. Can you not see Putin has over 80% of support? The Chinese Community Party Government has won over 90% of trust of the 1.4 billion Chinese by referring to the Edelman Trust Barometer. When China has announced to have eliminated poverty of the country in early 2022, when China has stopped taxing the rural people as early as in 2006, when China’s economic size has grown from $30.55 billion in 1952 to $17,728.01 billion in 2021, we need to rethink over what is really mean by democracy and who is more democratic.

    • avatar
      JT HK

      The more stupid people trying to pretend to be democrats, the more damage they would be doing to democracy, the more problems they are creating for the people, the subject they should be serving.

    • avatar
      Žygis

      what barometer? Do you even understand what you write? Russian troll

    • avatar
      JT HK

      What do you mean by democratic? Who is to qualify this? It is the people of the country and its constitution that can judge, not outsiders.

  6. avatar
    Крис

    Yes. But it won’t bring anything good to the Europeans. These two are not De Gaulle and Adenauer.

  7. avatar
    JT HK

    If Macron and Olaf Scholz are following the led of non-EU countries the US and the UK, how can they lead Europe again?

  8. avatar
    Martin

    I think that all the leaders of all de EU country s must work together. Why is it possible that two of them can take te lead?

  9. avatar
    Minnie

    Two new leaders for France and Germany. I hope they use the synergy well for Europe where redistrubution of wealth is now so much needed

  10. avatar
    Tobias

    France and Germany just isolated themselves in Europa and the world, while the world is united against Putin.

  11. avatar
    Dimitri

    They couldn’t even lead a liverwurst shop.

  12. avatar
    Phil

    The lead in what ? Destroying european countries cultures and economy ? Sure !

  13. avatar
    Olivier

    I guess they’d better take lead.

  14. avatar
    Jorg

    Germany “””and””” France The fourth Reich is going smoothly

  15. avatar
    Sam

    They don’t manage their country how could they do with the hole Europe

  16. avatar
    Atanasiu

    They try their best to protect russia

  17. avatar
    Dawid

    I hope not,they will sell half of Europe to Russia.

  18. avatar
    Sven

    The EU is heading into a dictatorship, most people are blind and don’t want to see what’s going on. The whole EU is one corrupt shitthole.

  19. avatar
    Aryob

    Whenever Europe disintegrates, there will be peace in the world and the United States will never dare to attack other countries.

  20. avatar
    Chris

    EU is a joke, a vassal of the USA, that drives itself into self-destruction.Lies, deception, manipulation, …. in the name of democracy, a downright disgrace.I feel ashamed to been European.

  21. avatar
    Filip

    nice, fresh hell is coming at us….

  22. avatar
    Pierre

    Where is the “stop button” for EU?

  23. avatar
    Dora

    No. The psychopatic USA took over EU like it took over NATO. Is it because euro is tied to the falling us dollar? All these years you were doing business with Russia, shaking hands, smiling ear to ear, never once mentioning that Putin is a deadly enemy. Rightfully so, he isn’t. But after watching you lie with a straight face, spreading american propaganda for over 3 months, i doubt that any of you will ever be trusted again. Tell us straight up, approximately when will we own nothing and be happy? How many more pandemic, wars, recessions or depressions do you need to finally implement the global plan?

  24. avatar
    Kris

    They are now discussing how to proceed further at the W.E.F. in Davos! How can we make the population poorer, how can we role out new vaccination obligations, do we have a new disease which can support this (monkey pox?), how will we keep on telling the population the climate is heating up, and how far are we with total control of the population? is the 5G network far enough implemented? do we have total coverage? do we need to organize a bigger food crisis? How many billions does Ukraine need more to keep the war going……. etc.

  25. avatar
    Robin

    Hahahha…two biggest clowns of the EU ! EXIT EU !

  26. avatar
    Patrick

    Daar zal het tribunaal wel over beslissen… de moordenaars gaan hangen, dat weet ik zeker…

  27. avatar
    Catherine

    Save the people from the beasts

  28. avatar
    John

    the pharmaceutical industry is as interested in public health as the arms industry is in world peace-

  29. avatar
    Tim

    These two clowns are destroying Europe. And they like it.

  30. avatar
    Laurence

    mais jamais!!! l’UE va se casser la gueule! elles est en train de se disloqué!! et tant mieux!

  31. avatar
    Hermien

    yes, i living on earthe alhwayse tho chouse or my in the pscychiatrie and wil be fry

  32. avatar
    Hermien

    with me i have a film from pischiatrie in the 1920 look, their psychiatrische medication, tuffen ze uit, dat kan ik niet vertalen in het engels, ik heb dat zelf ook gedaan

  33. avatar
    Hermien

    it,s on democracy , there ,s the politicy on, but that,s everywery ,

  34. avatar
    Hermien

    u s a d verenigde staten overl everywhere, but your a good presendent now i think so

  35. avatar
    Hermien

    ik ben belgisch maar ik ben vier talige bijna, ook aministratief bediende gestuurd

  36. avatar
    Hermien

    de tijd zal het uitwijzen, the time showe with

  37. avatar
    Hermien

    ik wilde altijd een buitenlandse reis doen, buiten europa, ik kreeg nooit de kans wegens verkeerde diagnose, ik moest gevangen jarenlang gehouden tot gedwongen opname in de psychiatrie, terwijl verkeerde diagnose, dat gebeurt in echte leven

  38. avatar
    JT HK

    I cannot see how European integration can restart without first restarting the post-Covid social and economic recovery, and at the same time, to mobilize for cease fire in Ukraine. No country/region can prosper when a fierce war is fighting next door with refugees all over. Even worse, a EU member Poland appeared to enlarge the conflict by joining the war.

  39. avatar
    Крис

    Yes. But it won’t bring anything good to the Europeans. These two are not De Gaulle and Adenauer.

  40. avatar
    Paul

    Again ???? ….when did they stop trying…..economically Germany is risking to be a busted flush…Macron’s dreams of a more federal eu state with self sufficiency in power generation, defense etc will hit the buffers & a move towards majority voting with potentially “associated membershio” will alienate eastern Europe who are already very suspicious.As we’ve seen with the recent egs of financial crash, pandemic & now war in Europe….events will always overtake plans & its unclear wherher the EU has the structures or the political will to respond.

  41. avatar
    Apolinaras

    In recent circumstances words “leadership”, “France” and “Germany” in one sentence at best are laughable.

  42. avatar
    Michael

    I would prefer to see the word “integration” off the table but focus on better cooperation. As for my country, Britain, it would be nice to see a much more positive approach to political and economic cooperation with the EU but I don’t see much hope for as long as Boris Johnson is in power.

    • avatar
      JT HK

      Michael Chambers Cannot agree more. Boris Johnson appeared to have turned himself to the assistant of the American president Joe Biden and wasting his time and effort everywhere except in his own country. Spend more time to see how to serve the British people for post-Covid social and economic recovery.

    • avatar
      Michael

      JT HK Thanks

  43. avatar
    JT HK

    Macron’s top priority to secure Europe peace and prosperity with like minded leaders. European state abandoned its neutrality and forming military alliance with non-EU members with the intention to contain Russia would drag EU military conflict like Ukraine. These states are potential ground of military conflict with non-EU states and should not be accepted into the EU family. The damage of over-expansion is increasingly conspicuous.

    • avatar
      Žygis

      JT HK who cares. As long as we wont change russia to democratic, we will have problems in europe. The best time to do it is NOW

    • avatar
      JT HK

      Žygis Šat If democracy means putting US proxy to rule, only brain-dead would still talking about democracy. Democracy of the West has reduced to election, all other elements such as liberty, equality, fraternity and legality have been sacrificed by power struggle of political parties and politicians. Can you not see Putin has over 80% of support? The Chinese Community Party Government has won over 90% of trust of the 1.4 billion Chinese by referring to the Edelman Trust Barometer. When China has announced to have eliminated poverty of the country in early 2022, when China has stopped taxing the rural people as early as in 2006, when China’s economic size has grown from $30.55 billion in 1952 to $17,728.01 billion in 2021, we need to rethink over what is really mean by democracy and who is more democratic.

    • avatar
      JT HK

      Žygis Šat The more stupid people trying to pretend to be democrats, the more damage they would be doing to democracy, the more problems they are creating for the people, the subject they should be serving.

    • avatar
      Žygis

      JT HK what barometer? Do you even understand what you write? Russian troll

    • avatar
      JT HK

      Žygis Šat What do you mean by democratic? Who is to qualify this? It is the people of the country and its constitution that can judge, not outsiders.

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