• Germany's news in English

Germany and France united for G20 summit

AFP · 14 Nov 2008, 08:12

Published: 14 Nov 2008 08:12 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The main focus of the meeting in Washington of the world's 20 leading economic powers on Saturday is discussing a root-and-branch overhaul of the rules governing the global financial system to shore up confidence.

Despite initial differences, both France and Germany were quick to blame the crisis on a lack of proper regulation and what they call unrestrained "Anglo-Saxon" excesses by the gung-ho investment bankers of Wall Street and London's Square Mile.

During its presidency of the Group of Eight industrialised nations and the European Union in 2007 Germany advocated greater transparency in international finance, but Berlin says it was thwarted by US and British resistance.

Both Sarkozy and Merkel will be united in Washington in pressing for greater transparency in global finance and a beefed-up role for the International Monetary Fund.

"I think that Germany and France have similar positions when it comes to regulation," said Katharina Gnath from the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).

"During its EU and G8 presidencies Germany always made proposals about regulation. At the time it was Britain that was more of the problem within the EU, but within continental Europe there was more or less consensus," Gnath told AFP.

But Franco-German harmony had been notably absent in other areas.

The two countries, which like to see themselves as being the core of the European Union, were at loggerheads after the crisis exploded in September on how to come to the rescue of the continent's banks and its slowing economy.

French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde, for example, got short shrift from Berlin when she suggested a rescue mechanism - reportedly armed with €300 billion ($375 billion) - to stop the collapse of eurozone banks.

And Sarkozy's proposals for an "economic government" for the 15-nation eurozone and his October 23 announcement of a French sovereign wealth fund to protect firms from the economic downturn also created irritation in Germany.

For Berlin, the idea of a sovereign wealth fund goes against the free market rules of the European Union, any talk of 'economic government' smacks of Gallic micro-management and it is loath - as the biggest contributor to the EU budget - to pay for others' mistakes.

"In Germany when you hear the words 'economic government'... alarm bells sound," Gnath from the DGAP said.

Berlin prefers its economic stimulus measures to be implemented at the national level, albeit when they are closely coordinated with other EU members.

Story continues below…

At a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels on November 7 to prepare a common position for the Washington summit it was all smiles and a statement from Berlin talked about Europe speaking with "one voice" to press for greater transparency for financial products and for IMF reform.

But for some observers the barely disguised spat throughout the crisis between Berlin and Paris has weakened the European Union's position going into the G20 get-together.

"We could have promoted a European model towards the other countries," one German source with knowledge of Europe's inner workings told AFP, saying that the "door had been closed much too quickly."

"Talking with one voice is never particularly easy for the Europeans," Gnath said. "But they will try."

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

Fake Germanwings victim relative convicted in Cologne
A torn piece of metal at the crash site in 2015. Photo: DPA

A German court on Wednesday gave a woman a year's suspended jail sentence for posing as the cousin of a victim in last year's Germanwings plane crash and obtaining compensation offered by the airline.

Couple accused of torturing, murdering women go on trial
The so-called 'house of horrors' in Höxter where the couple allegedly tortured and killed women. Photo: DPA.

A couple accused of luring women to their village home with personal ads started trial on Wednesday over charges that they tortured and killed at least two of their victims.

After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

Merkel: murky internet giants distort perception of reality
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for internet giants to make public their closely-guarded algorithms, claiming that they are not giving people diverse enough information.

Pegida leader 'paid court costs with group's money'
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann. Photo: DPA.

The leader of the anti-Islam movement reportedly used money from Pegida's coffers to pay for two personal court cases, German media reported this week.

Anger as Berlin scraps Turkey concert on Armenia genocide
The Dresden Symphony Orchestra. Photo: DPA

Germany's foreign ministry Tuesday scrapped a planned symphony performance on the Armenian "genocide" in its Istanbul consulate, sparking accusations that it was caving in to Turkish pressure.

10 ways German completely messes up your English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd