World News: EU Energy Crisis Accelerates

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The Franco-German tensions linked to Berlin’s decision to protect itself from the energy crisis weaken a European Union that is still too exposed to German economic omnipotence, a domination that is also finding its own position.

When China wakes up... The world will tremble. How apt the title of Alain Peyrefitte's book, published in 1973, is by analogy brought back to the European scale, to the vicissitudes that the Franco-German couple is currently going through.

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Concretely and abandoning any additional pun, it is clear that faced with the freshness of Franco-German relations, the European Union is worried, even in turn, trembling. Several reasons explain this quarrel, albeit temporary, between the two largest economies of the continent, a quarrel that comes at the worst time in view of the international situation.

Energy crisis, Ukrainian conflict, Russian-European relations, Russia with which Germany has privileged relations... are all elements that have contributed, not as such, to accentuate the rigidity of Franco-German relations but rather with regard to the decisions taken across the Rhine to deal with it.

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Germany through its Chancellor Olaf Sholtz has thus drawn a 200-billion-euro energy plan  to protect German consumers during the winter months by doubling this same plan by massive purchases of gas always with the same perspective.

Community logic

If the decision can in absolute terms be understood and defended, Paris sees in this same decision an individual act detached from any Community logic which should then have prevailed. Germany being a member of the Union and therefore bound by certain contractual and diplomatic obligations, official or tacit. Imagining a group purchase of gas could then have been envisaged on a European scale, naturally including Germany.

But Berlin, financially autonomous because of rigorous management of its public accounts, has opted for a sovereign purchase by backing it to an energy plan that certainly illustrates all its financial capacity but also had the effect of irritating its neighbors, starting with France. However, should we see in this quarrel a lasting alteration of Franco-German relations?

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Neither Berlin nor Paris has an interest in fueling a controversy whose origin has already isolated the German Chancellor by giving the impression that Germany is making a mockery of   his European partners since the latter has the means to match its ambitions. Because indeed Germany has the means of its ambitions unlike its partners stuck and stuck between public debts and abysmal deficits.

Atonement and Rigor

Does it have to atone and self-flagellate? It is obvious that not, but this financial ease that Germany owes only to its own rigor in keeping its public accounts goes badly in a European Union that is collectively trying to resolve the inflationary crisis hitting energy. For many, a concerted effort would have been appreciated by all, even if it was purely formal. At the same time, this quarrel brings back to the forefront a form of German hegemony in Europe, real or supposed, which tends to irritate Paris in view of the existing economic differences.  

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Some will admit, however, that if European and Franco-German relations are not threatened, the same will recognize a crack, one more, in the Community logic. Quickly forgotten in favor of special interests as soon as a major crisis like the one we are currently going through arises. It is fair to hope that winter, both from a climatic and political point of view, will be mild.


Bio: Olivier Longhi has extensive experience in European history. A seasoned journalist with fifteen years of experience, he is currently professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held a variety of publishing positions, including Head of Agency and Chief of Publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, editor, and editorial project manager, he has trained and managed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant, and a communications consultant.

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