The issues at stake are not trivial ones. At the core of the Franco-German conflict is no less a matter than the question of how Europe can shake off the current crisis. Merkel is convinced this can only be achieved by implementing reforms — austerity, liberalization of the labor market and restructuring of social welfare systems.
But Hollande is unwilling to let Germany impose its model on France. He fears the European recession will only worsen if Berlin succeeds in implementing its austerity plans.
Even in the euro crisis, Germany is reluctant to be seen as sole leader. It badly needs a French economic revival to have a plausible partner at the top again.
“This is why, ultimately, it does not matter whether they like each other—that has not been the case for years.”