Merkel’s farewell visit to France: Dominant Germans or unexcited girlfriend?

Status: 03.11.2021 01:58 a.m.

An era will also come to an end for France when President Macron receives Chancellor Merkel on her farewell visit today. How is Merkel’s work assessed in France? What do the French remember?

By Julia Borutta, ARD-Studio Paris

An old castle, a good wine, a beguiling landscape – the Chateau du Clos de Vougeot in Burgundy offers everything the French President needs for a warm, dignified and very French farewell to the chancellière allemande.

Julia Borutta
ARD-Studio Paris

Merkel will appreciate the setting, even if she had to get used to the French pleasure in staging, says Hélène Miard-Delacroix, historian at the Sorbonne University. “She appropriated that.”

Smiling with a steady hand

Angela Merkel has always found it difficult to correctly read and use this yardstick, this scale of connectedness. The pathos and pomp that French presidents love was alien to her, and so she has not built a natural, but a serious and stable relationship with her various partners in the Elysée.

The old-fashioned Jacques Chirac, the hothead and alpha man Sarkozy, the all too normal Francois Hollande and the smart and impetuous Emmanuel Macron – Merkel formed a stark contrast to each of them and yet had the same recipe ready for everyone, says Miard de la Croix: ” She was always the same, smiling, “but was also someone who led with a firm hand. The firm hand – some would also say the iron handle.

The constant braking

Because in France Merkel is not only seen as the embodiment of stability and consistency. Especially during the debt crisis, Merkel’s dismissive attitude disturbed the French for a long time.

The German silence after the Sorbonne speech by the newly elected President Emmanuel Macron in 2017 is also irritating. He presented himself as an ardent European and urged Germany to reform the EU with him. The pragmatist in Berlin did not take up his visions, apparently leaving Macron in vain.

The French see Merkel’s legacy differently

Unagitated head of government or dominant German? The French naturally rate this differently:

We are all sad that she is leaving.

She is committed to the whole of Germany, and I do her my honor.

If I were German, I would not have liked to have Merkel as Chancellor. It brought a million refugees to Germany, and they don’t get along well with a democracy.

She worked very well with France. I just like her, she is personable.

In the last few meters, France has gained weight in the Franco-German relationship – that’s how you perceive it in Paris. The fact that Merkel and Macron rose to form a European reconstruction fund worth billions, including joint debts, is attributed to the perseverance of the president. Hélene Miard-Delacroix thinks “that the Merkel Macron tandem works best.”

So Germany and France are more dependent on each other than ever. With a very good drop of Burgundy you will make sure of that again this evening. And after the brittle but ultimately successful Merkel years, Macron can be very optimistic that he will soon be able to get along well with the reserved hamburger. He will receive him properly.

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