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Wednesday 04 October 2017

The German Ambassador was on a visit to ESCP

Three days before the federal parliamentary elections in Germany, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut honoured us with a visit to the Paris campus. He talked about the key issues of Franco-German cooperation, the challenges of European integration, and Europe’s place in the world. The International and European Institute looks back at his speech. 

Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut has been the German Ambassador to France since 2015, and he was the Chief Advisor on European Affairs to Chancellor Angela Merkel. After joining the Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 1989, this Francophile was subsequently appointed as the Federal Republic of Germany’s Permanent Representative to the European Union.

On Thursday 21 September, he was invited by the Call On’U diplomatic association to address a key issue for the future of the EU: in the wake of the radical changes that are destabilising the international scene, what are the prospects for Franco-German bilateralism? 

Meyer-Landrut’s speech begins with an observation about the multiple challenges to which both countries must jointly respond: in a globalised world, outbreaks of regional tension are upsetting the international geopolitical balance. In the United States, the election of the “unpredictable” Donald Trump has shattered the certainties established by his predecessor, while the Brexit shock reveals an unexpected change in European institutions. In the years to come, a host of environmental, demographic and technological changes will raise many questions for Europe and the world in general.
In this context, stresses the Ambassador, it is more important than ever to develop a close understanding between France and Germany, in the framework of stronger European cooperation. 

This cooperation will nonetheless have to come to terms with the different French and German attitudes towards European institutions: as a recent study by the Allensbach Institute shows, French public opinion is significantly more pessimistic about the future of European integration than German public opinion. However, Meyer-Landrut explains that these different attitudes should not prevail over the shared experiences and historic links that bind these two countries – links that must imperatively be brought to the fore in order to strengthen the feeling of belonging to Europe. The Ambassador takes the example of the Franco-German Integration Council, created in 2017 on the initiative of the Franco-German Council of Ministers. 

The German Ambassador also stressed the beneficial contribution that European integration made to Franco-German bilateralism after the Second World War: thanks to the European Union, that both countries resumed healthy relations founded on a Community based on the rule of law and common interests. Consequently, while European integration is sometimes interpreted as a loss of national sovereignty, Meyer-Landrut affirms that it has enabled Germany to regain a form of shared sovereignty and an international presence.

This declaration reflects Germany’s central role in European institutions: with its contributions adding up to nearly 19.7% of the European budget, Germany is the biggest contributor to the EU, ahead of France (16.7%). It is also the biggest contributor (27%) to the European Stability Mechanism (MES), and forms the biggest delegation to the European Parliament with 96 Members of the European Parliament. 

Redefining Europe’s place in the world 

Today, between the American giant and the Chinese behemoth, what is Europe’s place in the world? On the subject of trade relations, the German Ambassador encourages the European Union to assert itself in an international trade context that is dominated by the United States, while conforming to the limits defined by the World Trade Organisation and adopting the principles of fair trade. However, he adopts a more circumspect attitude to the idea of a “Europe of Defence”.
Indeed, the military interventions carried out by France in external military operations (Libya, Mali, Central African Republic) do not seem to correspond to the German tradition of restraint in external operations. “For Germany, the Europe of Defence is NATO” maintains Meyer-Landrut.

Statement collected by the International and European Institute

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