Paris pushes to bring Berlin on board with EU industrial policy – ​​EURACTIV.fr

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There is no time to lose for Germany and France to finally sit down and build an ambitious European industrial policy that will protect European industries against the United States and China, the French minister said on Tuesday of Economy Bruno Le Maire, one day before his speech. visit Berlin.

“We would be better off working hand in hand (to develop) a much more proactive (and) innovative industrial strategy” and agreeing to an EU-wide policy that “better protects our industrial interests compared to the China and the United States”, Le Maire said LCI Tuesday.

A source close to the matter told Euractiv that the focus is on improving competitiveness and productivity across the continent, which includes “several levers, including that of professional training and professional retraining”. .

The source added that much has already been done to support emerging industries that are helping to accelerate the green and digital transitions.

But “is it enough?” No”: “it is high time that France and Germany agree on a common industrial strategy (…) there is not a single day to lose,” declared Le Maire.

The relaxation of state aid rules in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has greatly benefited Germany, with risks higher than ever of threatening the integrity of the EU single market.

ANALYSIS: The race for EU subsidies is on – and Germany is winning it

Germany is the biggest beneficiary of the relaxation of state aid rules, having received almost half of total state aid approved since February 2022, according to new data from the European Commission. which reinforces concerns about market fragmentation.

Le Maire’s comments come a day before he arrives in Berlin, where he is due to meet Robert Habeck, vice-chancellor for the economy and climate policy, and Finance Minister Christian Lindner, before a joint press conference.

The bilateral meeting between the EU’s two largest economies was formalized by the Treaty of Aachen, signed in 2019 by French President Emmanuel Macron and then German Chancellor Angela Merkel to promote economic ties between the two nations, particularly in matters of economic and foreign policy.

But relations between the two countries have been strained since Scholz took office – with Scholz’s distant approach to Paris raising fears of a The Franco-German interregnum» and an era of stagnation.

Both also committed a series of symbolic blunders that did little to improve their image: In June, French protests against police brutality forced Macron to cancel the first official visit to Germany by a French president in 23 years.

A Franco-German Council of Ministers was also canceled at the last minute by the Elysée last October, as major disagreements were revealed on key issues such as the status of nuclear energy, the budgetary rules of the EU and defense issues.

That said, both sides have been keen to dispel doubts with public demonstrations about the unique nature of their relationship, including Macron’s visit to Potsdam, the chancellor’s private residence, in June, which was described as a special honor and a rare private meeting between the two parties. two leaders.

Berlin says EU should get used to rising South

In terms of foreign policy, the two countries are aligned on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but do not share exactly the same vision of a geopolitical Europe and the same vision of France in favor of strategic autonomy of Europe.

Last June, Scholz was criticized by conservative opposition leader Friedrich Merz for failing to coordinate with France and other EU partners on the content of Germany’s first-ever national security strategy.

Learn more: German opposition denounces “rock-bottom” relations with France

On Tuesday, Scholz called on Europeans to get used to the growing power of countries in the South.

Last weekend, the G20 in New Delhi adopted a resolution condemning “the threat or use of force to acquire territory”, without mentioning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

For Scholz, the joint resolution is the result of collaboration with countries in Africa, Asia, North America and Latin America.

Similarly, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Frankfurt Allgemeine that countries like South Africa and Brazil were increasingly aware of the “fatal consequences” of the conflict as China no longer isolated itself from Russia.

Nevertheless, Scholz remains cautious about the future challenges of international collaboration.

He predicted that America and European countries would have to get used to accepting a diversity of viewpoints, warning that the coming world would “not be about the West or anyone else” but would “simply be more multipolar”.

(Theo Bourgery-Gonse | Euractiv.fr, Nick Alipour | Euractiv.de – Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos | Euractiv.com)

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