Merkel-Hollande: covering each other’s backs

October 7, 2015

As Germany marks a quarter century since the reunification of East and West in October 1990, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande make a joint address from 1300 GMT to the European Parliament that needs to provide convincing arguments on the future solidity of a bloc facing unprecedented crises.

A mass influx of refugees from a Syrian conflict, in which Western and Russian forces are rubbing uncomfortably close to each other, is not something their predecessors Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand would have foreseen 25 years ago.

Domestically, high youth unemployment across much of Europe has led to a new generation of Europeans who do not automatically assume the EU is a good thing; and Britain is flirting with an EU exit which its government does not want but might not be able to stop.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen will relish the opportunity to attack Hollande full-on ahead of France’s 2017 election; Merkel, no longer appearing quite so invincible, will face critics of her stance on the European economy and the migration issue.

Do not expect any major policy announcements from either but do expect the duo, from either side of Europe’s political spectrum, to close ranks in a display of Franco-German unity.

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