The Jacques Delors Centre Co-Director discusses importance of institutional reform agenda and Franco-German relations.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was in Strasbourg on May 9, Europe Day, to discuss with members of the European Parliament. Jacques Delors Centre Co-Director Johannes Lindner commented on Scholz’s speech in an interview with NDR Info.
Areas of divergence and convergence
"The general tone was statesmanlike but could have been more concrete," Lindner concludes. In his view, differences between Germany and France were clear in the speech. One of these was in the global economic order, where Scholz backed a multipolar system and emphasised free trade agreements. Another area where the two countries diverge is how strongly the green transformation must ultimately be steered by European money and a common industrial policy.
Lindner praises Scholz for emphasising the topic of institutional reforms and enlargement, because “this is an issue that Germany and France can move forward together on.” However, he stresses that the issue of institutional reform needs to play a bigger role in the context of the upcoming EU elections and notes that “Germany and France are not so far apart on that.”
Domestic issues in focus
Despite the importance of EU level issues, Linder recognises that "both governments naturally have a strong domestic policy orientation in the current crisis situation. In Germany, that means balancing a multiparty coalition; in France, it means pushing through pension reform partly against the street. In that framework, Europe is less prominent."
Asked what the Franco-German relationship now needs to move forward, Lindner replies that there are and should continue to be forums to advance exchanges even on issues where the two countries are "on opposite ends of the spectrum". The new meetings and formats that have been announced, including President Macron's state visit at the beginning of July, are certainly helpful here.
You can listen to the full interview (in German).