Paris and Berlin try to relaunch their Euro partnership

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The Independent Online

A Franco-German summit in Strasbourg today will attempt to "relaunch" the troubled European partnership between the two countries.

A Franco-German summit in Strasbourg today will attempt to "relaunch" the troubled European partnership between the two countries.

There is nothing specific for Paris and Berlin to quarrel about - not even a formal declaration - so the dinner meeting can be guaranteed to end on an upbeat note. But, public relations apart, there are signs that the two capitals wish to set aside their recent differences and rebuild something resembling the Franco-German axis of the 1980s and early 1990s.

A senior German official said: "There is no other partner with whom we can work so closely as with France. There is no more talk of geometry, because Europe acceptsthe special Franco-Germanrelationship."

The summit, coming only one day after Tony Blair met the German Chancellor in Berlin, may be seen as a snub to the Government's hopes of building closer alliances with France and Germany. French and German officials see it as a recognition of reality. While Britain remains outside the eurozone, the impetus for European policy-making - defence apart - must come from Paris and Berlin.

The meeting will be attended by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Germany's Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer; and on the French side by President Jacques Chirac, the Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, and the Foreign Minister, Hubert Védrine.

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