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ANGELA MERKEL

French-German relations ‘will get worse’: Ex-PM

France's former Prime Minister and current centre-right deputy François Fillon said on Friday he had "rarely seen relations so bad" between France and Germany, and he feared they could get even worse after Germany's next elections.

French-German relations 'will get worse': Ex-PM
File photo: Robin Hood/Flickr

Former French prime minister Francois Fillon said Friday he feared ties with Berlin would worsen after Germany's general election in September, lamenting they had already hit a low.

"We've rarely seen relations so bad" between France and Germany, said Fillon, who is now an opposition conservative deputy, on a visit to Berlin.

The comments marked a rare public shot across the bows at Socialist President Francois Hollande by a French official while abroad.

"My fear is that after the German election the situation will harden considerably," referring to the September 22 poll in which conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking a third term.

"For the moment everyone is in a holding pattern, including the markets, and once the issue of the election is resolved, we will be faced with reality, meaning 'Are we respecting the stability pact? Are we making an effort on competitiveness?'" Fillon said.

Fillon, who met with German officials including Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, said that his interlocutors in Berlin had expressed concerns about the state of relations, the health of the French economy and the risk of rising anti-German sentiment in France.

"You have… a French president who is waiting for the fall of Ms Merkel, telling himself that there is a small chance after the German elections of getting a quite significant change in the economic orientation of Germany and Europe," he said.

"I think this is a grave error," he said, adding "everything is in the process of growing apart between France and Germany".

Fillon served under former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who famously had such a close working relationship with Merkel that they won the joint moniker "Merkozy".

The ex-prime minister asserted that Hollande had never forgiven Merkel for backing Sarkozy during the French presidential election campaign last year, poisoning relations between them.

Hollande campaigned on a pledge to combat what he called Merkel's austerity-driven approach to the eurozone crisis, favouring a model of increased public spending to spur economic growth.

Merkel has resisted such calls, saying that only expansion based on budgetary discipline will be sustainable.

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ANGELA MERKEL

Merkel and Macron to meet for dinner in Berlin on Friday

French President Emmanuel Macron will have dinner with Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday - the first time this year the German chancellor has received a foreign leader in person, her spokeswoman said.

Merkel and Macron to meet for dinner in Berlin on Friday
Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Pool Getty Images/AP | Leon Neal

The working dinner at the chancellery will focus on “European policy issues”, government spokeswoman Martina Fietz said on Monday.

Talks will focus on the “coordination between Germany and France” ahead of an EU summit in Brussels on June 24-25, she said.

The dinner meeting comes after G7 leaders gathered in England at the weekend for their first in-person summit in almost two years.

VIDEO: Watch Merkel’s funniest moments 

World leaders were also meeting in Brussels on Monday for the first NATO summit with US President Joe Biden.

Subjects on the agenda included how to deal with China’s rise and confronting an emboldened Russia, ahead of a meeting between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday.

At the EU summit, leaders are due to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic, economic recovery, migration and external relations, including with Turkey and Russia.

At an online Franco-German council of ministers in May, Macron paid tribute to the German chancellor, who is bowing out of politics this year after 16 years in power.

“This last council allows me to say how much the Franco-German relationship owes to your commitment, your willingness to take action, sometimes your patience with us, and your ability to listen,” Macron said.

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