or nearly 70 years, the Franco-German alliance has ruled the European integration game. Despite being fairly dormant for the past few years, the relationship got put on trial this past Monday at the emergency eurozone summit as Angela Merkel and François Hollande hammered out the terms of a deal subsequently blessed by all other nations. While this may have been a surprise — given their generally opposing political positions — the oft-forgotten secret is that France and Germany rule the eurozone not because they agree, but because they do not. A few days ago Berlin was actively considering Grexit while Paris worked to keep Greece in the single currency. Because the two nations typically represent polar opposites, a deal struck between Germany and France can usually be accepted by all countries except the UK. And as we saw this past week, the tired old couple can still work its magic. However, this could be a last fling. Germany has demonstrated that economic factors trump political and strategic considerations, while simultaneously France is proposing to make the eurozone a politically accountable body with its own parliament and budget.
These economic and political faultlines are bound to only widen and deepen, as the Franco-German alliance no longer takes its strength from the shared project of European integration. Instead, the relationship has become utilitarian in nature. As a result, the EU’s days of ever-closer unity may be at an end.
60 Years of French-German Relations || DW (Deutsche Welle)