Hertie School hosts rbb24 Inforadio podcast on Franco-German relations.
Franco-German cooperation has been dealt its fair share of challenges recently: financial crises, a pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and with it, soaring food and energy prices. Can Germany and France work through their differences to confront these challenges? This was the subject of a panel discussion on 30 March at the Hertie School. rbb24 Inforadio host Harald Asel moderated the panel with Hertie School President Cornelia Woll, Berlin correspondent for Radio Europe 1 and Journal du Dimanche Hélène Kohl, and Envoy of the Ambassade de France en Allemagne Emanuell Cohet. The event was broadcast on rbb24 Inforadio on Sunday.
Optimism despite current rifts
Despite visible disagreements on topics ranging from energy policy to security, President Woll remains optimistic about Franco-German cooperation. She admitted that Europe and the world are currently facing a difficult situation; however, she underscored that “cooperation proves itself in crisis.” Woll pointed out that Franco-German cooperation was effective in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and said that this proved Germany and France could spearhead successful joint projects, regardless of their different political perspectives.
Franco-German relations a family matter?
While Kohl acknowledged that the French and German governments are forced to reach a consensus on pressing issues in a short period of time, she said that the enthusiasm for cultural exchange programmes was declining. Although France and Germany enjoy intensive talks on common projects, Kohl stressed that “we need more people who know each other and who aren’t afraid to argue with one another.” She compared this to family meetings: “If you meet your aunt once every two weeks, you are nice and don’t argue with her, but if you sit down with your parents every evening, it is a bit more animated.”
Franco-German alliance is crucial for Europe
Despite the current disconnect, Cohet was convinced that German and French leaders shared a consensus in core areas like decarbonising the economy and meeting CO2 targets. Yet he stressed that, moving forward, the two countries would need to define their joint ambitions more clearly. Cohet stressed the importance of the alliance for tackling current challenges on the European level, too. “A vital partnership between Germany and France is indispensable for addressing the big issues facing Europe and the world,” he said.
Listen to a recording of the event on rbb24 Inforadio (in German).