Blog AnalysisEuropean policy

The Franco-German couple is struggling. The proof by the texts and the photos

(B2) More than a long speech to take the pulse of the Franco-German couple, it is enough to take a look at the relationship made by the two official French and German sites of the Hollande – Merkel summit in Paris on the 4th. March. Uplifting!

The evidence from the texts

On the Elysée site, the report of the press conference joint » is elliptical to say the least. It thus only reflects the presidential words. The intervention of Chancellor Angela Merkel is absent…

On the German government website, the report is a little more exhaustive, the Chancellor's remarks are transcribed but also those of President Hollande. Certainly in Paris, we do not have the same conception of the couple as in Berlin.

Photo proof

The photos published by the two sites are, to say the least, evident of this difference in appreciation.

On the Elysée site, we see a François Hollande speaking at ease, determined, and an Angela Merkel, sullen, in a bad mood, headphones in her ear, seeming completely elsewhere, and mute. I can't wait for it to end, Fr. Hollande seems to say.

On the Elysée site, we see a François Hollande speaking at ease, and a scowling Angela Merkel, headphones in her ear, seeming unable to understand (credit: Elysée)

On the Chancellor's website, we see the two leaders discussing as they descend a staircase. A fairly realistic photo of a difficult dialogue, where the Chancellor seems to respond to a French President who does not entirely agree (in aesthetic terms, this choice of photo is more interesting)

(credit: Foto: Bundesregierung/Bergmann)

Knowing how carefully these photos are chosen by the leaders' communication managers, we have a good visual appreciation of how the Franco-German couple is felt in Paris and Berlin.

A torn couple?

In fact, the vision of the Franco-German couple is totally different on both sides of the Rhine. On the German side, the couple is two, for better and for worse, with a lot of arguments if necessary, but we stay together no matter what. There mater German is probably a little matronly around the edges, a little tough, not fun every day. But she holds the bar. The French husband is more of the light, flighty type. It's a separate room, the common dinner is done quickly, just to keep up appearances, and after ciao, we each go out separately. Certainly the Franco-German couple is a couple in name only… even in official communication.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

UPDATE At the Franco-German summit in Metz, at the beginning of April, the Chancellery responded to the photo of the Elysée, with an almost similar photo, but reversed. We see Angela Merkel speaking calmly while François Hollande appears, headphones on, looking sullen, annoyed... and knock!


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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