Why he annoys Berlin

That’s actually the headline for this analysis of Nicolas Sarkozy’s chronic inability to charm the leaders of France’s most important international partner. As it happens, it would also be an excellent name for a band. Tonight at Call The Office: Suffer Machine, We Are Scientists and Why He Annoys Berlin.

Anyway the short answer is that the French president is annoying because he’s annoying. First, inevitably and not really his fault: he’s French. He thinks government is always the answer, and more government is always better than however much you have right now. So in a crisis, he thinks the Euro group — not the same as the European Union, because Britain and Eastern Europe and others don’t use the Euro — should have a political directorate. And who should run it? Oh, go ahead, guess. Guess.

You’re right! Sarkozy is who. After having accomplished very little with the rotating six-month EU presidency, he wants a 12-month Euro-group presidency as a reward. This is the second reason Why He Annoys Berlin: Because it’s always about him. And finally, no consultation or planning with Sarkozy is worth anything next to the lure of the open mike. “The day doesn’t go by that Sarkozy doesn’t find a microphone to toss out a new idea for saving the world, Europe or France,” the Suddeutsche Zeitung laments.

Chasser le naturel et il revient au galop, we say: Chase away human nature and it comes back running. Sarkozy knew he needed to make a solid relationship with Germany the cornerstone of his entire foreign policy. He knew that if he did not have an ally in Angela Merkel, another a conservative pragmatist, he would have no allies. On the very day he became President of the Republic he flew to Berlin to demonstrate that France and Germany can only ever be friends because the alternative has always been horrible. It was a lovely gesture. But he can’t help himself.

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