Dr David Lees: Macron to ‘reposition’ France as EU leader
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Mr Scholz, since being sworn in as Chancellor in early December, made sure that a visit to the Élysée Palace was first on his agenda. He was welcomed by Mr Macron in Paris just days after assuming the position, taking over from Angela Merkel’s 16-year-stint.
As Mr Scholz finds his stride as German Chancellor, an expert on the political economy of European integration and EU economic governance told Express.co.uk that Mr Scholz will prioritise EU goals and Germany’s interests through closer ties with Mr Macron.
Professor Iain Begg of the London School of Economics and Political Science said Mr Scholz will be looking to differentiate his coalition cabinet from Ms Merkel’s leadership, looking to “appear to be a good European citizen”.
He added that the Chancellor will pursue “alliances, particularly with Macron, on things like further deepening the Euro governance, by which I mean having a fresh round of the rescue package that was put in place in Europe at the end of 2020.”
Professor Begg suggested that bolstering an EU budget so that it is always ready to respond to situations of crisis within the bloc could be pushed forward by a Macron-Scholz partnership.
He said: “Macron wants this; Scholz seems to be sympathetic to it.
“I think you’ll see some resistance from his finance minister [Christian] Lindner, but it’s already being written into the coalition agreement as something that they want to pursue.
“It’s a bit of a ‘watch this space’ to see what really happens, because there’s always been this reluctance in Germany to allow spending in other countries to depend on their taxpayers.
“It’s almost a red line for them, but there’s a disposition to do it.
“The door was opened by Merkel, who was one of the prime movers in the fund that was created in 2020, along with Macron.
“And the sense I get is that they want to continue that with a new fund, probably relating it to things like green and digital, rather than welfare spending.”
Mr Scholz took over from EU heavyweight Ms Merkel earlier this month, leading the centre-left Social Democrats in a coalition with the Greens and Free Democrats.
Mr Scholz served as vice-chancellor under Merkel and managed Germany’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic as finance minister.
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Mr Scholz’s objectives with the block will be “about achieving the long-term European ambition”, according to Professor Begg, as the German leadership shifts from conservative over to the centre-left.
He added: “I think we’ll see a renewal of Franco-German leadership, which faltered over the last 10 or 15 years.
“It didn’t do very well when [Nicolas] Sarkozy was the French president, it struggled a bit under Francois Hollande.
“It’s come back a bit under Macron, but still not being that prominent.”
“And that matters for the dynamism of Europe, because it will push other European countries to support what the Germans and the French want.”
During Mr Macron and Mr Scholz’s meeting in Paris in early December, the French president praised a “convergence of views” with Mr Scholz, even calling the new Chancellor “dear Olaf” in what looked to be the start of a closer relationship between the two nations.
Mr Macron lauded “a desire to have our countries work together, and a firm and determined belief in Europe, which I knew already, which we will need in the months and years ahead”.
Addressing Mr Scholz at a press conference, Mr Macron said: “During the last four years I have worked with Angela Merkel on all these subjects.
“I know that we will continue together, dear Olaf, this close collaboration”.
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