France And Germany - Divided They Stand

Episodes

First
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
20190730

What if it's not Brexit, but deep cracks within the EU's key Franco-German relationship that are the greatest fault line threatening the EU? Anne McElvoy explores what economists Markus Brunnermeier, Harold James, and Jean-Pierre Landau have dubbed “the Rhine Divide”. It's a deep historical divergence of French and German economic ideas and political culture. "For Germans the historical trauma is inflation, and for the French, the historical trauma are the Germans," says German historian Andreas Roedder.
Occasionally the divide blows up in a big way, such as during the Greek debt crisis, when Germany insisted on sticking to deficit rules and austerity against France's request for leeway and a bailout.
Wolfgang Schäuble, the formidable former German finance minister, now Speaker of the German parliament, talks frankly about modern French/German relations, as does Poland's former finance minister Jacek Rostowski. He remembers the Franco-German relationship during the European debt crisis as one where "France would agree to what Germany wanted as long as Germany pretended that it was consulting France."

Schäuble now "despairs" over Brexit, and lets slip that France and Germany do in fact have different views on it. Britain's departure from the EU will re-calibrate the Franco-German relationship in France's favour, recreating more of a balance between the tandem at the heart of the EU. Could that mean that France will be less likely to go along with German wishes in future? With Brexit and other challenges on the horizon, can the EU's pivotal relationship hold?

Presenter: Anne McElvoy
Producer: Arlene Gregorius
Editor: Andrew Smith

Could the 'Rhine Divide' between France and Germany threaten the EU more than Brexit?

2019073020190804 (R4)

What if it's not Brexit, but deep cracks within the EU's key Franco-German relationship that are the greatest fault line threatening the EU? Anne McElvoy explores what economists Markus Brunnermeier, Harold James, and Jean-Pierre Landau have dubbed “the Rhine Divide”. It's a deep historical divergence of French and German economic ideas and political culture. "For Germans the historical trauma is inflation, and for the French, the historical trauma are the Germans," says German historian Andreas Roedder.
Occasionally the divide blows up in a big way, such as during the Greek debt crisis, when Germany insisted on sticking to deficit rules and austerity against France's request for leeway and a bailout.
Wolfgang Schäuble, the formidable former German finance minister, now Speaker of the German parliament, talks frankly about modern French/German relations, as does Poland's former finance minister Jacek Rostowski. He remembers the Franco-German relationship during the European debt crisis as one where "France would agree to what Germany wanted as long as Germany pretended that it was consulting France."

Schäuble now "despairs" over Brexit, and lets slip that France and Germany do in fact have different views on it. Britain's departure from the EU will re-calibrate the Franco-German relationship in France's favour, recreating more of a balance between the tandem at the heart of the EU. Could that mean that France will be less likely to go along with German wishes in future? With Brexit and other challenges on the horizon, can the EU's pivotal relationship hold?

Presenter: Anne McElvoy
Producer: Arlene Gregorius
Editor: Andrew Smith

Could the 'Rhine Divide' between France and Germany threaten the EU more than Brexit?

2019073020190804 (R4)

New documentary from BBC Radio 4