François Hollande’s visit in Berlin today and meeting with Angela Merkel had all the unspoken rules of a family dinner on Christmas: No arguments, no blame games, smile for the cameras. The German and French government celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty between their nations, putting aside more recent history that pits them against each other. Both countries have sparred on how to solve the euro crisis. Germany has fought for cutting government spending and reducing labor costs, prompting French reactions that saving and growth at the same time are not compatible. France, meanwhile, will not agree to Germany’s proposed reforms.
All of that was set aside today to make plans for the future. During a shared parliament meeting in the German Bundestag, the heads of the two states talked about working closer together on the European integration and energy policies, and promoting youth programs. Hollande also talked about a new tax for finance transactions that European Union finance ministers in Brussels approved today.
Merkel not only addressed the relationship between Germany and France, but among countries in the EU. “The countries in the north and in the south of Europe are united to our fortune,” she said and she repeated, slowly and clearly, “to our fortune.”
Take a closer look at Hollande’s and Merkel’s body language from today, and it’s clear who has been in charge lately.