Macron’s state visit to Germany in 24 years ahead of EU Parliamentary elections

| Updated: 27 May, 2024 2:46 pm IST

NEW DELHI: French President Emmanuel Macron landed in Berlin, the capital of Germany, on Sunday for a three-day state visit followed by a bilateral cabinet meeting. Both major powers of the European Union seek to show unity as the EU parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held from June 6 to 9, 2024, with a total of 720 seats in the European Parliament up for election.

Macron’s trip to Berlin is the first French presidential state visit to Germany in 24 years. This visit will test the German-French relationship that determines EU policy making. “This state visit comes at a key moment for Europe,” Macron said during a media interaction.

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France-German enmity has a long history dating back to the 16th century. The main causes of this rivalry include territorial disputes over regions like Alsace and Lorraine, which changed hands between France and Germany multiple times, and competing for dominance in Western Europe, with Germany seeking to replace France as the leading land power after its unification in the 19th century.

Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have very different leadership styles and have publicly clashed on issues from defense to nuclear energy since the latter took power in late 2021.

“There are tensions in the German-French relationship, but in part precisely because they have dealt with some difficult topics,” said Yann Wernert at the Jacques Delors Institute in Berlin, noting the two countries had also converged on the need to expand the EU eastwards.

The visit is “an attempt at the highest political level to demonstrate that the relationship is working, but there are still fundamental gaps on major questions that are looming over the EU,” said Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe at the Eurasia Group think tank.

The India-France relationship is characterized by strong strategic ties, especially in the Indo-Pacific region, driven by shared democratic values and security concerns regarding China’s influence. France’s historical support for India, even during controversial events like India’s nuclear tests, has solidified this partnership.

In contrast, India-Germany relations focus more on economic cooperation, with Germany being India’s largest trading partner in Europe and a significant foreign direct investor. While both seek UN Security Council reform, Germany lacks a strategic footprint in Asia like France, impacting the nature of their ties.

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