France and Germany Cooperate to Save the EU


Janell Wang, Staff Writer

In this time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has joined with French President Emmanuel Macron to try to save the European Union (EU). They proposed a 500 billion euros relief fund using grants to aid EU countries hit hardest by the pandemic. This would essentially pour funds from richer countries like Germany and France in the north to the poorer ones in the south like Spain. Chancellor Merkel’s decision to propose this bill will not make her popular on her home front and possibly give a push toward opposing far-right populists.

This pandemic, which has hit Europe’s economy hard, led to a need to overcome divisions within the EU. With Britain out of the EU, Germany and France were left to come to an agreement, as they represent Europe’s biggest economies. 

Nathalie Tocci, advisor to the EU and the head of Italy’s Institute of International Affairs stated, “This crisis tells us something about leadership, and how important the Franco-German engine is, and how bad things can go without that. The Franco-German relationship epitomizes ultimately what the EU is about, crystallizing the arguments of different sides, and if they agree, it creates a critical mass for the others.”

The debt from this proposal will be collectively repaid by the entirety of the EU. A plan with the proposal being incorporated will be made by the European Commission and is supposed to be finalized by May 27.  

However, the plan has reached a stalemate between poorer southern countries in favor of grants such as Italy, and the richer northern countries like Sweden that are against the idea of collective debt and support loans. This is bound to create arguments among EU members before a decision is finally agreed upon. Opposition argued that the pandemic is not only detrimental toward the EU, but also for their respective countries if the north needs to depend on consumption from the south. There already has been open opposition, as Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is against grants, stating, “We are ready to help most affected countries with loans.”

Such opposition may not only come from the north, but also in Eastern and Central parts of Europe, where economies have suffered from the decrease in demand. This proposal also angered far-right, anti-European populists who believe that the people from the south are less hard-working. These views are also shared with other right-wing politicians who aren’t considered to be populists. For now there will be much debate for and against this relief fund.


Image Courtesy of NYTIMES.COM