France and Germany have been forced to shift a joint meeting of their governments slated for next week, after it was discovered that cracks had developed between the two allies on the strategies to contain the energy crisis facing Europe.

A report by The National yesterday said that the regular talks expected between President Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and their ministerial colleagues will no longer hold next week as planned.
Spokesman for Mr. Scholz’s, Steffen Hebestreit, said the reasons were partly logistical, but acknowledged there were differences between Berlin and Paris, adding that “more time” was necessarily needed to continue

“There are a number of different issues that we are dealing with at the moment … on which we have not yet reached a unified position,” he reportedly told a press conference on Wednesday.

Spokesman refused to be drawn on what issues were unresolved between France and Germany, whose partnership has often been described as the engine of Europe, even in the face of the current energy crises triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Also Read: EU Leaves Door Open to Gas Price Cap After Talks On Energy Crisis

Observers however note that several differences have crept into the open in recent weeks on handling the winter energy crunch.

Germany openly blamed France’s reduced electricity exports for worsening the energy squeeze at home, forcing ministers in Berlin to postpone its long-planned exit from nuclear power.

France, in turn, was among the countries to react coolly to Germany’s vast €200 billion ($194.5bn) bailout package, rescuing its economy in a way most EU countries could never afford.

Mr. Macron reportedly told Les Echos newspaper last week that his country preaches “unity and solidarity,” in an interview, in which he said that “we cannot stick to national policies, because this creates distortions”.

Also Read: Energy Crisis: World’s 2nd Largest Steelmaker Closes Shop in Europe

Germany’s Emsland nuclear plant will remain on standby longer than planned after France reduced electricity exports. Reuters

Another rift concerns the proposed MidCat gas pipeline linking Spain to the rest of Europe. Mr. Scholz is said to be lobbying for the connection to be built, but Mr. Macron is sceptical that the long construction time is worth it.

The National said the two countries are also at odds over gas prices in the EU. While France supports a Europe-wide cap, Germany fears it would limit the bloc’s ability to buy gas on the world market.

Again, observers suspect that the long-standing differences over nuclear power, which France supports and Germany opposes, had returned, when the EU ruled that atomic energy should be classed as sustainable.

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There has been occasional grumbling in Berlin that while Germany has taken heavy criticism for stuttering military aid to Ukraine, France’s support for Kyiv has not been obviously superior.

Despite the delay, Mr. Scholz’s spokesman said he was “very, very confident” that the regular talks, now expected in January, would not be pushed back a second time.

According to him, Scholz and Macron would still be meeting regularly, including at this week’s EU summit in Brussels and possibly again in Paris next Wednesday to continue talks.

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