Will Brexit revive the Franco-German engine?

26 January 2017
Yann-Sven Rittelmeyer (Former Policy Analyst at the EPC)

With national elections in sight in France and Germany, could Brexit re-start the Franco-German engine of European integration? The Franco-German duo was traditionally the driving force behind European cooperation. The two founding members’ strategy of overcoming diverging opinions through compromises and then winning the support of other member states has prevailed as European integration moved from the European Coal and Steel Community to the European Communities and eventually to the EU. However, in recent years, the Franco-German axis has been less reliable and effective, despite the experience of the economic crisis and the migration/refugee crisis. The reactions to the Brexit vote once again revealed diverging views between France and Germany. In this Policy Brief, Yann-Sven Rittelmeyer looks at how the challenges posed by the Brexit vote could reverse the centrifugal course of the EU, and whether or not the Franco-German couple will act as a unifying force in that context. The arrival of freshly-elected leaders in France and Germany could regenerate the duo if both countries adopt an attitude facilitating their cooperation and focus their attention on key priority topics (first defence, then the eurozone). If they manage to do so the UK’s departure might just end up spelling good news for the EU.

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