The relationship of France and Germany is in question while Schulz goes alone in politics

Officials denied there were problems in Franco-German relations, but Chancellor Schulz’s focus on domestic policy alarmed some lawmakers in Europe.

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New tensions between France and Germany are challenging their relationship at a time when their unity is critical to broader European policy in tackling the energy crisis.

The leaders of the two countries will meet in Paris on Wednesday, but that meeting was almost cancelled.

Initially meant to be a broader discussion involving government ministers, then it was announced that it had been postponed and, in the end, turned into a mere meeting between the two heads of state.

“The historic Franco-German commitment to close cooperation seems questionable, or at least challenged, today,” Alberto Alemanno, professor of European Union law at HEC Business School, told CNBC via email.

He added that the work of German Chancellor Olaf Schulz “creates the deepest divisions within the union.”

France and Germany are the two largest economies in the European Union and two of the founding countries of this political grouping. Their unity is essential to policy making in the European Union.

There were disagreements between France and Germany over how to handle the energy crisis. While France, for example, advocated capping European gas prices, the German government agreed to do so only last week — with several conditions attached.

Germany has also come under fire for agreeing to a €200 billion ($200.2 billion) rescue package that looks to support German businesses and families while blocking EU-wide steps to raise more money and support European countries with less financial room.

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French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in the wake of this plan that the eurozone needs to work together and avoid fragmentation among the 19 countries that share the single currency.

In addition, there are concerns in the broader European Union about Schulz’s upcoming trip to China and an eye to doing business with a country that is increasingly seen as a competitor to European nations. There are also problems with Germany’s long delays in delivering arms to Ukraine.

“The relationship is clearly strained, a development that I mostly blame the German government for,” Jacob Kierkegaard, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund think-tank, said by email.

He added that “Schulz leads the first three-party coalition in the history of Germany, and therefore has less control over its ‘domestic politics’ compared to previous German chancellors as well as his ideological opposition to coalition members of the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party.”

‘Greatly amplified’

However, French officials denied any kind of tension, but acknowledged that the three-party German alliance makes any kind of agreement slower to achieve.

“This has been exaggerated,” a French official, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, told CNBC about the tension between Paris and Berlin.

Changes to the original gathering have been linked to calendar issues, with German ministers reportedly arguing that this was a good week to spend the holidays with their families. Le Maire said the postponement “has nothing to do with any kind of political difficulty,” according to Politico.

The same official added that sometimes both countries move “slower” on policy than desired, but that “we always discuss with the Germans.”

However, they added that the German alliance, in place since December, is relatively new and “there is a learning curve there”.

“It takes a long time for them to come to a common position,” the official said.

The German government could not be reached for comment when contacted by CNBC.

“In terms of cooperation with France, President Macron and I meet very often,” Schulz said last week.

Analysts at the political risk consultancy Eurasia Group also noted that “frustration with Berlin has increased” across Europe.

While criticism initially centered around what was seen by many senior EU officials as Berlin’s limited military support for [Kyiv]Member states in all areas have begun to criticize Germany’s financial and energy policies as well.”

They added that “disappointment with Berlin has now reached such an extent that it effectively risks weakening the Franco-German alliance – the EU’s most important bilateral relationship.”

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