French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met in Paris with smiles and a handshake on Wednesday but ignored questions about their faltering relationship as they headed to the Palace. of the Elysee.
Scholz flew to the French capital for a hastily scheduled working lunch to find common ground after the French leader had postponed a joint cabinet meeting last week over what sources blamed on differences, including over the energy policy and defense.
After the talks, Scholz said the two leaders had a “very good and important talk” covering European energy supply, price increases and joint defense projects.
“Germany and France are very close and face the challenges together,” he said in a tweet.
Moments before Scholz’s arrival, French government spokesman Olivier Véran had played down any disagreements, saying the Franco-German relationship had always been able to overcome difficulties that arose from time to time.
“Today’s meeting reflects that this friendship is still alive,” Véran said.
Yet the number of issues on which France and Germany – the EU’s two richest and most influential members – are at odds is growing, from the bloc’s defense strategy to its response to the energy crisis, relations with China and even fiscal policy.
These difficulties arise as the EU struggles to reach an agreement to determine whether to cap gas prices in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
It is also affecting Europe’s plans to build its next generation of fighter jets, gas pipeline projects across the EU and German plans to let China invest in its ports.
Macron’s decision to postpone a joint cabinet meeting last week highlighted the French president’s frustration. Berlin blamed the decision on logistical difficulties and downplayed the disagreements.