Against the background of weak European integration, unpredictable Brexit prospects, and deepening suspicions between the United States and Europe, France and Germany have tried to prove to Europe and the world that as long as the two countries work closely together, they can cope with the challenges facing Europe. Most internal and external challenges. However, since Macron came to power in France and the French-German axis seemed to “restart”, the slogan of cooperation between the two sides has been screamed loudly, but the specific results have not been as expected, and they have even made trouble on NATO and other issues.
The reason is that in addition to the need for the two parties to continue to adapt to the role shift of power division, France and Germany also have differences in the starting point, direction and method of their policies. These differences also start to create trouble when they provide conditions for complementary cooperation between the two parties. At the same time, changes in their respective internal affairs will magnify the conflict of interests between France and Germany.
First, the power distribution and division of labor between the two parties in the cooperation were not smooth and not yet in place. The theme of the European debt and economic crisis period was economic governance. The “Murau match” model of Germany’s strong and weak law was in line with Germany’s political stability and economic dominance, but France’s various problems. Although Hollande also tried to question Merkel on the issue of “growth” or “deflation”, France was ultimately unable to challenge Germany, the EU’s largest goldholder, on the question of “how to spend money”.
Macron’s strong appearance not only foreshadows the transition of European issues from economic and technological aspects to political solutions, but also means that France is not “post-Gansu”. France has many “big powers” such as permanent members of the Security Council and nuclear powers, and its strategic comprehensive political solution is its strength. Therefore, from the reform of the Eurozone to the building of the EU’s security capabilities, from climate change governance to maintaining the Iran nuclear agreement, from “wrapping his wrists” with Trump to relations with Putin, Macron’s limelight has clearly overwhelmed the start of domestic political struggles, prestige And physical condition is much worse than the previous Merkel.
However, “Ma Qiang’s weakness” is just the appearance of a discourse pattern of power. Without the practical support of “French strong and weak,” the power distribution of “Ma Mopei” will be difficult to translate into effective division of labor and produce results. Although the French economy has performed better than Germany recently, Germany’s family base is thick enough. In many internal affairs of the European Union, France is gaining a huge political voice, but Germany still has the largest economic decision-making power. This mismatch of economic and political power, discourse power, and domination power will continue between France and Germany, and will continue to provide nutrients for the soil where the two sides can “cooperate but not harmonize”.
Second, the French-German disagreement over NATO’s “brain death” issue was described by German Defense Minister Karen Bauer as “a difference in strategic culture” between the two countries. Although this has long been a popular opinion in European public opinion circles, speaking from Ms. Defense Minister’s mouth, at least it shows that the French-German differences on strategic and security issues have been difficult to cover up.
The so-called “strategic cultural differences” are, in essence, huge differences between France and Germany in the starting point, direction and environment of policy making. For example, on the issue of “European army building”, France, which has the “standard configuration of major powers,” has the confidence and ideas, and has a strong policy orientation to reflect the existence of the EU’s hard power through foreign military intervention; Regarding the limited scope, the goal of “building an army” is locked in “advancing and consolidating integration.”
This divergence is further reflected in the very different strategic and security needs of the United States and NATO: France is more politically and strategically independent of the United States, what it requires is “ally-type coordination”, and Germany’s political and security dependence on the United States Even bigger, what is needed is “sheltered existence.” Also facing the United States, France, which has less reliance on the US market, can stick to the bottom line to protect the interests of the agricultural sector in the US-Europe free trade negotiations, but Germany, which depends on the US market, has to suffer heavy losses in manufacturing exports. Ready to compromise with the United States at any time. The differences between France and Germany in historical factors, strength structure, and the starting point and direction of the policies determined by them have determined the normalization of “consensus and contradiction” in foreign and security affairs between the two sides.
But in history, the successful cooperation between France and Germany was also based on differences. The Germans had both mocked and reluctantly believed that cooperation with France was because “we know the positive solution to the problem, and the French know the other side.” However, the premise of forming such a differentiated solution between France and Germany is that France and Germany have different power constitutions and perform their respective functions. The two countries can use their advantages to influence other member states, and then form strange and positive relations in dealing with European and foreign affairs. effect.
However, the current strengths of France and Germany—the composition of power—are undergoing profound changes: France is eager to fill the shortcomings of the economic woes, and its intention to obtain economic benefits through political power is difficult to conceal; Germany is still cautious, but has gradually realized its “state “Normalization” will not easily give up political power extended from economic strength. Therefore, what we are seeing now is how France and Germany cooperate with each other when France focuses on the economy and Germany engages in politics. This is the first issue facing the two countries since the end of World War II.
In the early stage of the transition to “Malma match”, France and Germany actually wanted to change the previous differentiated cooperation method, and instead adopted a “common stand, a voice” and reshaped the core of the EU’s power by “setting an example”. However, in the context of the increasing tendency of centrifugation within the European Union and the diversified interests of member states, this type of cooperation has brought other countries’ concerns about “common rule of France and Germany and arbitrary power of the great powers”, which has increased France and Germany and other EU countries Barriers in the field. Therefore, the current state of cooperation between France and Germany, which gradually reveals differences and differences, can also be regarded as the two sides still continuing to explore ways to get along and cooperate with each other.
France and Germany are China’s important partners in bilateral, regional and global affairs, and both have the ability to become leaders in Sino-European cooperation and a model for China’s relations with the West. At a time when President Macron is willing to lead France to play a greater role, but Chancellor Merkel has stagnated Germany due to political internal friction, China-EU cooperation is also undergoing a shift in momentum. Of course, a French-German axis that is in place and forms the same direction of cooperation with China is still a promising prospect for China.