Germany and France strengthen energy transition ties following cracks in relation
Clean Energy Wire
Germany and France have reiterated their wish to work together on the energy transition, technological sovereignty, supporting industry in the transition to climate neutrality and decarbonisation efforts. State leaders Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron met on 22 January in honour of the 60th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty, which marked the start of the French-German friendship. The two leaders called for “swift and ambitious European action” and hope to work together to come up with a response to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), thus securing the “competitiveness and resilience” of European industry, for example by simplifying industry access to support. Additionally, they aim to agree on a “common approach” for low-carbon hydrogen, and said that a joint working group of the French ecology ministry and the German economy ministry would present proposals by the end of April. Germany would also join the H2Med hydrogen pipeline project, which plans to connect Portugal and Spain with France. Scholz and Macron pledged to “invest more in the technologies of the future, especially in renewable and low-carbon energies.” Particularly, they hope to make the offshore wind potential of the North Sea a cornerstone of competitive electricity prices and hydrogen production.
The cooperation agreement comes after a last-minute cancellation of government consultations in October 2022, which was seen as a crack in relations between Europe’s two biggest economies. It was labelled as a “diplomatic earthquake” in German media that exposes stark contrasts in the two countries’ strategic approaches to energy and defence policy. However, both countries have now pledged to strengthen their ties “in all areas”. “The German-French engine is a compromise machine, well oiled, but sometimes noisy and marked by hard work,” Scholz said in his speech following the meeting. “Our goal is the same – a Europe that is more sovereign, that has more solidarity, that holds its destiny in its own hands,” Macron added.