France, Germany pledge industry cooperation

26th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

26 October 2004 BERLIN - Seeking to heal recent economic discord, ministers from Germany and France on Tuesday vowed to push for better industrial ties at a joint Franco-German cabinet session in Berlin.German Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy pledged "closest possible cooperation" in bilateral industrial policy - but declined to give any further details.Both countries have had sharp disagreements over business issues this year including a row over the takeover

26 October 2004

BERLIN - Seeking to heal recent economic discord, ministers from Germany and France on Tuesday vowed to push for better industrial ties at a joint Franco-German cabinet session in Berlin.

German Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy pledged "closest possible cooperation" in bilateral industrial policy - but declined to give any further details.

Both countries have had sharp disagreements over business issues this year including a row over the takeover of German-based pharmaceutical company Aventis by French rival Sanofi and France‘s blocking a takeover bid for the railway technology segments of the
battered French concern Alstom by Germany‘s Siemens.

Berlin is also wary over French calls to merge the struggling shipyards from Alstom with Germany's Thyssen-Krupp and HDW. "The time is not yet ripe for such an alliance," said a Clement spokesman on Monday.

There have also been contrasting public approaches to record oil prices: France wants the possibility of energy tax cuts but Germany has fiercely rejected this.

A Clement spokesman said German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac would outline what he termed "broad accord" over trade and business issues at a joint news conference. 

Seeking to put on a show of harmony, the Clement and Sarkozy went jogging together early Tuesday through Berlin‘s Tiergarten park.

But major newspapers insisted that relations between the two men remain troubled.

"Sarkozy just keeps getting on Clement‘s nerves," said the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, adding that Clement‘s cancellation of a visit to Paris two weeks ago was seen as a sign of displeasure in France.

Following the joint Franco-German cabinet session, Schroeder and Chirac will meet alone with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey is also becoming an issue of discord between Berlin and Paris.

Chancellor Schroeder is one of Turkey‘s biggest backers for European Union membership. Chirac also backs Turkey joining the EU but there is little support for Ankara among his
conservatives.

The French leader stunned German officials by abruptly reversing an agreement with Schroeder not to call a referendum on Turkish EU membership. France now plans such a vote whereas Schroeder is fighting off calls by opposition conservatives for a German
referendum.

Leaders of the 25 EU states are due to decide at a 17 December summit in Brussels on whether to start accession talks with Turkey.

Erdogan has himself admitted this would be a long and difficult process and that it might take Turkey until 2019 to become an EU member.

The three leaders will also attend a signing ceremony for a previously announced EUR 2.8 billion sale of 36 Airbus jets to Turkey‘s state airline, Turkish Airlines.

DPA

Subject: German news

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