Macron and Scholz in bitter row as Berlin snubs EU for US defence

Olaf Scholz says Germany 'will manage better this winter'

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French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are considering postponing a summit of their two governments planned for next week in the south of France over unresolved disputes about their military cooperation.

The scheduled Franco-German ministerial council in Fontainebleau next Wednesday could be cancelled over a row between Mr Macron and Mr Scholz over Berlin’s intention to invest in US weapons rather than boost EU defence project.

The German Government announced this year it would increase its defence budget by €100billion but it has since signalled that most of the money would go to the US.

French officials lament that joint Franco-German military projects such as the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) fighter jet and the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) tank would have benefitted from a boost in funds from the German side.

Last summer, then German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to buy US maritime patrol aircraft for €1.1billion (£950million).

The “interim” deal with the US sparked outrage in France and President Macron was reportedly said to have been left “exasperated” by Mrs Merkel’s move.

The deal could have had damaging repercussions for Franco-German Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS) programme.

Later last year, Mr Macron announced France would pull put of the Franco-German military programme as a result.

The two governments have also exchanged blows over their military support to Ukraine with Germany often criticised for the delays in providing Kyiv with military weapons.

France, Berlin argues, has equally been slow in showing support to Ukraine but is often let off the hook.

Hinting at a postponement of next week’s summit, a French government official said: “There isn’t enough progress on topics [of discussion], so it’s possible the council will be postponed to give us more time to work on them.

“There are complexities, France and Germany don’t always agree.”

The two countries have also publicly disagreed on matters of energy, especially with regard to the MidCat gas pipeline project.

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President Macron had previously argued against the project, which is strongly backed by Germany as a backup for halted Russian gas deliveries.

The cross-Pyrenees has been opposed by France because of “national interest” amid potential competition for the country’s nuclear-generated power and nascent hydrogen production industry.

On Tuesday, German economy minister Habeck said discussions on the pipeline were ongoing between the two governments but acknowledged they would have to look for other alternatives as well.

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