French Socialists told to stop blaming Merkel

Opponents of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel stuck up for the country's leader on Tuesday as a cross-border row with members of France's Socialist party rumbled on. Members of France's ruling group were told to stop 'German-bashing'.

French Socialists told to stop blaming Merkel
Will François Hollande apologise on behalf of his party members for their recent German-bashing? Photo: Bertrand Langlois/AFP

Two of Chancellor Angela Merkel's most prominent opponents have urged France's ruling Socialists to call a halt to the "German-bashing" that has soured the two countries' partnership.

Ties between the nations, whose post-war reconciliation has driven European integration, sunk to a new low this weekend after France's Socialists accused Merkel of "selfish intransigence" in her response to the eurozone debt crisis, in a leaked party document.

Euro MP Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a German Green and fervent critic of Merkel, said the Socialists were making the Chancellor a scapegoat for their own failure to win the debate in Europe over the balance between austerity and measures to promote growth.

"Instead of pointing the finger at Mrs Merkel and ascribing her powers that she doesn't have, the French Socialists should look to their own failures to create a European project and find allies to support it," Cohn-Bendit told Europe 1 radio.

"They've tried to absolve themselves with Merkel-bashing and Germany-bashing. That's not going to change policy at the European level. The whole Socialists' approach has been bad."

Germany's Martin Schulz, the Social Democrat President of the European Parliament, echoed Cohn-Bendit's remarks following a long meeting with French President François Hollande on Tuesday evening.

"Blaming Angela Merkel for all the problems of Europe, I find that unfair. Around the table in Brussels, there are 26 other leaders, not just Angela Merkel.

"It is well known that I'm a Social Democrat, so I'm no supporter of Merkel, but she can't be held responsible for everything that goes wrong in Europe."

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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.