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Celebrating 25 years of working closely together on their economies, Germany and France’s Economic and Financial Council met on Tuesday at a moment when many have been saying the relationship was breaking down.
With iconic cars, a Beetle and a 2CV outside, inside there was no sign of obsolescence in Europe’s much-vaunted “special relationship”, as the central bank bosses and finance ministers presented a united front as they tried to dispel the idea that Berlin and Paris are no longer singing from the same hymn sheet.
“We are not everything in Europe but without France and Germany and without our close cooperation, nothing works in Europe. This was the beginning of European unification and it is the prerequisite for a successful continuation. And if in some areas we have differing opinions, we can learn and profit from each other,” said Germany’s Wolfgang Schäuble
The two countries have followed very different industrial paths in the last few decades, but France believes they are still complementary.
“France is, it’s true, a country which today thinks it does not need austerity. But it is a serious country conducting a credible policy. We do not renounce our fiscal responsibilities. This is a promise I will make here in Berlin and which will be kept, I assure you,” said France’s Pierre Moscovici.
Germany’s industrial powerhouse fuels its export-led growth while France gets the most out of consumer goods while leaving older industries to wither away. Politically they remain close, but economically the divide between them is growing, with the EU providing the bridge between them.