N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
Ministers from the two biggest EU countries, Germany and France, meet twice a year for a joint-cabinet meeting, this time in Hamburg in the beginning of this week. The intention was to ‘strengthen the relationship’ rather than ‘drafting statements and papers’ and the meeting included a boat tour on the river Elbe, which French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz used for bilateral talks. They already tried this summer to improve their strained personal relation, often described as ‘lacking chemistry’, during a meeting in Scholz’s residence in Potsdam, near Berlin.
The primary topics were their concerns over the EU’s declining global competitiveness against the backdrop of rising energy prices and a major industrial transformation. The new market for Artificial Intelligence is becoming a focal point for Berlin and Paris to reclaim EU’s economic and technological edge in competition with the United States.
France and Germany are fighting on subjects that affect their capacity to reach a steady recovering following COVID and the war in Ukraine. Prominently is their fight over the use of nuclear energy in a planned reform of the EU energy market. But, ‘the spirit of Hamburg’ as Macron called it, seems to have success. He expected ‘a necessary agreement by the end of the month’.
However, especially pleasing was the message, that the two governments are working on a joint push to reduce the regulatory burden coming from Brussels!