OLD FRIENDS

François Hollande and Angela Merkel pointed fingers at everyone and everything—except each other

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.

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel (CDU) und Frankreichs Staatspraesident Francois Hollande verlassen am Dienstag (22.01.13) im Bundeskanzleramt in Berlin im Rahmen der Feierlichkeiten zum 50. Jahrestag des Elysee-Vertrages eine gemeinsame Pressekonferenz. Deutschland und Frankreich feiern am Dienstag den 50. Jahrestag der Unterzeichnung des Elysee-Vertrages am 22. Januar durch Bundeskanzler Konrad Adenauer und Frankreichs Staatspraesident Charles de Gaulle. Damit wurde das Ende der Jahrhunderte alten "Erbfeindschaft" beider Laender besiegelt. Der Elysee-Vertrag bereitete der dauerhaften Aussoehnung zwischen Deutschen und Franzosen den Weg und bildet bis heute eine wichtige Grundlage fuer die Beziehungen beider Staaten. (zu dapd-Text)
Foto: Maja Hitij/dapd
Angela Merkel shows François Hollande the exit as they leave the Federal Chancellery. (Maja Hitij/dapd)
French President Francois Hollande, left, and German President Joachim Gauck, right, gesture prior to a concert at the Berliner philharmonics in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. France and Germany mark 50 years since they signed the Elysee Treaty, the post-war friendship pact between the former enemies. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
François Hollande points inside the Berlin Philharmonic. Next to him is German President Joachim Gauck. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel. French President Francois Hollande, and German President Joachim Gauck, from left, stand next to each other prior to a concert at the Berliner philharmonics in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. France and Germany mark 50 years since they signed the Elysee Treaty, the post-war friendship pact between the former enemies. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
Merkel points before the concert starts, too, and has Hollande impressed. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a common session of German parliament Bundestag and French National Assembly at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. Germany and France mark 50 years since they signed the Elysee Treaty, a post-war friendship pact. On Tuesday, Jan 22 the politicians mark the diplomatic milestone. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Angela Merkel pointing at the glass dome of the German Reichstag. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) speaks to French President Francois Hollande as they attend the Franco-German cabinet meeting on January 22, 2013 in Berlin as part of the celebration to mark 50 years since the Elysee Treaty launched after WWII French-German cooperation. In signing the landmark treaty on January 22, 1963, then French president Charles de Gaulle and West German chancellor Konrad Adenauer sealed a new era of reconciliation between the former foes which has since driven European unity.  AFP PHOTO / POOL / ODD ANDERSEN
Merkel with Hollande at a Franco-German cabinet meeting. (AFP Odd Andersen)
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