Speech to the Sorbonne, attempts on both sides of speaking in one voice on energy or on the European response to American subsidies: the birthday of the 60 years of the Elysée Treaty, symbol of Franco-German reconciliation was the subject of a careful staging on January 22.
The latter was all the more necessary since the disagreements have been numerous in recent months. The Treaty of Friendship signed between France and Spain three days earlier has shown that Paris considered it essential to acquire other diplomatic levers on the European continent.
It is doubtful, however, that the good will displayed by Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz is enough to convince that the Franco-German “locomotive”, an ambition claimed by the two leaders, is again on the rails and that it is able to train its European Union partners as follows. It would be necessary to respond to a breakdown, that which concerns the credibility of the tandem from the earthquake that the Russian invasion of Ukraine constituted.
The return of war on European soil brutally closed the parenthesis of “peace dividends” opened by the implosion of the USSR in 1991. Everywhere, the “change of time” acted by the Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a few days after the Russian invasion, pushes European countries to rearm.
After the laborious German turnaround and the commitment made in September by the Chancellor to make the first economic power of the continent “the pillar of conventional defense in Europe” and “the best equipped armed force in Europe”, Emmanuel Macron in turn announced a historic increase in France’s defense budget, an envelope of more than 400 billion euros in total over seven years.
The authority of Berlin as from Paris is however put to the test. The German reluctance to a green light which would allow other European countries equipped with Leopard tanks sold by Germany to transfer them to Ukraine highlight its difficulty of translating in fact the “change of time”, to reassure its neighbors, She who has long refused any major military commitment outside her borders, as well as the sale of her equipment in countries at war. The incomprehension, even the exasperation aroused by the reserves of Berlin, while hovering the fear of a new Russian offensive on the Ukrainian soil, will not dissipate anytime soon. >
Paris is faced with another obstacle. A European rearmament could have been conducive, if it had been led to cold, to the emergence of “European sovereignty” in terms of defense for which Emmanuel Macron continues to plead not without arguments, the reliability of Washington could not be considered immarian since the term of Donald Trump.
But the urgency which presides over this rearmament means that NATO remains the main beneficiary, which Berlin is delighted, with the defense industry of the United States. The latter appears to be the only one not to be completely overwhelmed by the forgotten imperatives of a conventional war that uses men and materials.
The anniversary of the Elysée Treaty could have been conducive to a strong gesture in favor of Ukraine. Even if no one can doubt their determination to support kyiv, Germany and France have saved it.