09 Nov 2022, 13:19
Benjamin Wehrmann

French and German politicians and business leaders assure sound cooperation on energy and climate

dpa / Handelsblatt / Clean Energy Wire

Politicians and business representatives from France and Germany have stressed the need for a sound and extensive cooperation of the two key EU members to maintain progress on climate action, the energy transition, and safeguarding European unity. Following weeks of reports about quarrels and disagreements between the governments in Berlin and Paris, members of parliament of both countries at an annual bilateral meeting earlier this week assured that Franco-German cooperation is intact amid the energy crisis and the ongoing war by Russia in Ukraine. Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock from the Green Party, said the two countries’ close partnership should not be taken for granted. “Friendship costs something, you have to invest in it.” She said the fact that the bilateral ministerial meeting planned for October had been postponed did not mean that relations have soured, news agency dpa reported in an article carried by Handelsblatt. Russia’s war had forced both France and Germany “to talk straight” about crucial questions regarding security and defence, industrial and energy policy as well as effective steps to curb global warming. Projects like “a true energy union” required well-organised meetings that might take longer to prepare, she added.

“We must not be separated,” said the president of Germany’s parliament, Bärbel Bas, at the joint parliament session held in the German capital. “The close German-French cooperation has become even more important in this situation,” she added. The Social Democrat (SPD) said both countries had their own “differing but legitimate interests,” but the strength of the Franco-German axis had always been that differences between them ultimately were turned into progress for Europe as a whole. Bas’s French counterpart, Yaël Braun-Pivet of the liberal LREM party, said irrespective of the current disputes regarding certain issues, “we see that we’re able to talk them through and overcome them together.” The German-French parliamentary assembly is held twice every year and gathers 100 MPs from both countries to discuss joint challenges.

At a French-German business conference held a day later on 8 November, representatives of industry groups from both countries met to sound out potential cooperation on climate action and European “energy sovereignty.” Martin Wansleben, head of the German chamber of commerce (DIHK), said in light of the current economic and energy crisis, France and Germany “should strive to lift their long tradition of bilateral economic collaboration to a higher level.” The two largest EU members had to become “the engine for Europe” once again. Especially regarding energy and environmental policy, the pair had to seize the opportunity for reforms. “Cooperation on climate action and the energy supply of the future are essential requirements for small and large companies in these challenging times,” Wansleben said.

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