Germany, France eye joint push against far right: sources

21st January 2014, Comments 0 comments

Germany and France want to jumpstart relations between Europe's two top economies, including by jointly countering the far right and eurosceptics in European elections, sources close to the German foreign ministry said Tuesday.

The sources said that in the run-up to the May elections, the two EU powerhouses were mulling joint appearances with "a clear pro-Europe message" aimed at vigorously opposing "nationalistic and intolerant campaigns by populists and eurosceptics".

Foreign ministers from the two countries are due to discuss proposals in Paris later Tuesday to breathe new life into bilateral ties after Europe's financial crisis exposed major differences in approach to budgetary discipline and growth.

Signs have emerged in recent days of both sides taking a step towards easing friction.

Berlin warmly welcomed President Francois Hollande's "social democratic" reforms announced last week to spur the beleaguered French economy, while Germany has offered logistical support to the French operation in the Central African Republic.

After speaking by phone on Saturday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius will likely examine concrete measures including joint trips to some of Europe's troubled neighbours, the sources said.

They are also expected to discuss cooperation on relations with the United States and sub-Saharan African countries, as well as support for eastern European countries' EU aspirations.

Steinmeier, a Social Democrat in conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel's left-right "grand coalition" government, told a Sunday newspaper that Europe could not leave France alone in its bid to restore order in the strife-torn Central African Republic.

Last week he also praised France's "courageous" re-orientation of its economic policy.

© 2014 AFP

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