Thursday, October 4, 2007
It might be slipping under the radar in the American press, but France and Germany have been engaging in something of an armwrestling match over European industrial projects, dating back at least to last year's negotiations over how to re-structure the European aviation heavyweight, EADS. According to an article in last week's Nouvel Obs (print edition), recent tensions between the two countries are in part a result of German exasperation over Nicolas Sarkozy's frenetic style, and his tendency to "tirer les draps" (French for hogging the covers). Now comes word that Berlin is insisting on structuring the financing of a European satellite GPS system in such a way that stacks the deck for German aerospace contractors, to Paris' (and the rest of Europe's) irritation.
In the traditional logic, these two countries are the motor that drives Europe. And while their relationship has always known peaks and valleys, rumor has it that it's entering a pretty deep valley phase. Which adds some context for Sarkozy's emerging re-alignment of French foreign policy to an American line.