Merkel hails working relationship with Hollande

German chancellor Angela Merkel at the Berlin conference on Europe yesterday. Picture: AP
German chancellor Angela Merkel at the Berlin conference on Europe yesterday. Picture: AP
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel may not have a “bosom friendship” with her French counterpart, she has said, but her working relationship with François Hollande was strong and crucial for Europe.

With her foreign minister saying Germany must not act with “Teutonic arrogance” towards its eurozone partners, Mrs Merkel yesterday played down criticism from France’s ruling Socialists.

“Living in an open society we must have nuances between conflict and bosom friendship. It seems there is nothing between the two – but the reality is different,” she told a conference on Europe in Berlin. Germany’s ruling conservatives have offered steady criticisms of Mr Hollande’s inability to reduce France’s deficit. But Mrs Merkel said she had “a good personal relationship” with Mr Hollande and that relations between Europe’s two biggest economies “stand on very strong foundations”.

Her partnership with Mr Hollande’s conservative predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, which led to the pair being dubbed “Merkozy”, was a hard act to follow. Mrs Merkel said she and finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble were “very optimistic” France would strike the right balance between consolidating its budget and fuelling growth.

“We will not criticise France openly,” Mr Schaeuble said. “We know France can do and does do many things better than Germany.”

Germany, he said, had to avoid acting like a “know-it-all” when giving France advice.

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