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First Signs: Schultz on his first visit to Paris

First Signs: Schultz on his first visit to Paris

The Federal Chancellery said the first foreign visit was “an expression of the close relations and friendship between Germany and France”. In the history of the European Union, it has always been crucial whether and how well the interaction and personal relationship between the French head of state and the German chancellor, or German chancellor, work.

The constellation is also currently interesting, with French President Macron forming a bilateral axis with the Italian Prime Minister and former European Central Bank President Mario Draghi in order to advance the interests of the southern EU countries in Brussels. In areas of fiscal policy in particular, these ideas usually deviate significantly from German ideas. It will be even more exciting to see how Schulz and Macron coordinate and what joint goals and projects they define for the immediate future – and whether they are taking quick steps or whether Schulz is waiting until next year’s presidential election is over.

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Then Schulz wants to meet EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel in Brussels. The focus should be on preparing for the EU summit next week. A conversation with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is scheduled for the evening. She added that this should underscore the importance of the alliance for the security of Germany, Europe and across the Atlantic.

Barbock evokes “French-German impulses”

Before Schulze, the new Secretary of State, Green Annallina Berbock, made her inaugural visits – also in Paris and Brussels. In Paris, despite existing differences of opinion, for example over nuclear energy, I evoked Franco-German friendship. On Thursday, Barbock said at a joint press conference with her French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris that Europe is “the centerpiece of German foreign policy.” “Strong Europe needs strong Franco-German motives for this.” In the worsening Ukraine crisis, Russia has warned of the dire consequences of further escalation.

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After meeting Le Drian, Barbuc boarded the Thalys high-speed train to Brussels. Barbock stressed on Thursday after her first meeting with European Union Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell that the EU is a “success story” and is very important to her personally. The Spaniard called it a “good sign” that the green politician is also responsible for international climate protection.

Barbock: Germany has no sovereignty

“It is important for me to make it clear that Germany supports a strong European Union,” Barbock stressed in Brussels. At the start of its first day in office as chief diplomat in Berlin, the new federal government was not interested in German supremacy: “We will not pursue our ideas and interests over the heads of our neighbours, certainly not at their expense.” Borrell stressed that Europe-oriented Germany could help the EU become “the most credible actor in the world”.

China and Ukraine as a theme

Topics in the Brussels meeting included flashpoints of tension such as Ukraine, China and Iran. Borrell reiterated that the EU would use “all available means” to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty against a possible Russian attack. According to Barbuk, there was also an agreement on the path towards Belarus: “The European Union should continue to put pressure on the regime in Minsk,” she said. Because migrants are being exploited as tools, the European Union, in consultation with the United States, only put new sanctions into effect last week.