A cold snap in Franco-German relations may be thawing — at least on one serious issue that has been dividing Berlin and Paris. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced jointly on Monday that they had reached a compromise regarding Sarkozy’s proposed Mediterranean Union.
Merkel had repeatedly criticized (more…) the project in recent weeks. But on Monday, the leaders appeared to have forged a deal. “You will see that we have found a compromise on this Mediterranean Union which will not exclude anyone,” Sarkozy said. “We agree on both the principle and the detail.”
At a press conference held jointly with Sarkozy at the annual CeBIT computer trade fair, where France is the official guest country, German Chancellor Angela Merkel added that the ensuing outcome should be called the “Mediterranean Union” and that it “should be a project of all 27 (European Union) member countries.” Merkel was referring to her position that any deal to create a union with the Mediterranean states that border the European Union should be negotiated and drafted in conjunction with all EU member states — not just those that border the sea, as Sarkozy had initially proposed. […]
Merkel had previously accused Sarkozy of seeking to side-step existing EU policies in an effort to increase France’s diplomatic clout abroad and of proposing to spend funds from the 27-nation bloc to help establish his new union. Sarkozy is hoping to use what critics have disparagingly called his “Club Med” concept — after the French holiday resort chain — to strengthen ties with North African and Middle Eastern nations as well as Turkey. But German diplomats see it as an attempt to establish a French-dominated, second-tier EU. And some accuse him of using it to bypass possible membership for Turkey in the EU.
The respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote Tuesday that Merkel had initially rejected Sarkozy’s plan not because of German, but rather European interests. The problems France sees and wants to resolve with its neighboring states are also perceived by Merkel as general problems for the EU: illegal immigration, climate and environmental protection, trade and the Mideast peace process….
Those will only get worse with a Mediterranean Union.