EU cracks showing as France’s uptake in ‘German bashing’ unveiled
Brexit: UK should 'behave like our country's size' says Adonis
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World champions France started their Euro 2020 campaign with a victory over Germany thanks to Mats Hummels’ own goal. Tournament favourites France were marginally the better of the two sides, but appeared to be in third gear for much of the match. The power balance between these countries, historically skewed towards Germany, is no longer: France are now unbeaten in six straight games against their old rival.
The French press did not let this go unnoticed.
L’Équipe ran the front-page headline “Comme en 18” (“like in 18”) — a rather ambiguous reference, either to France’s World Cup win in 2018, the end of World War 2 in 1918, or both.
For many, the headline following the 1-0 win was in rather bad taste.
“Red card,” was the response from Olivier Faure, leader of the French Socialist Party.
German ambassador to France Hans-Dieter Lucas opted for a diplomatic response, writing on Twitter: “The memory of the German performance at World Cup 2018 remains painful, but thankfully our friends Les Bleus gave us great emotions that year.
“Long live Franco-German friendship!”
Despite the controversy, Clément Beaune, France’s junior minister for Europe, was clearly pleased with the result of Tuesday’s game, tweeting “in the end, France wins,” a play on a famous line from former England striker Gary Lineker, who said: “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win.”
L’Equipe was not the only newspaper to highlight tensions between the two countries, though.
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The weekly magazine Marianne listed 40 non-sportive reasons of why France is to crush their dear neighbour Germans, warning its readers that Germanophobia is guaranteed.
In a recent report, head of Oxford-based think-tank Euro Intelligence, Wolfgang Munchau insisted some of the caricatures were funny, while others also resonated with some deeper held resentments against “the German stability obsession, Angela Merkel and German culture over which the French consider themselves superior”.
In politics, Mr Muchau wrote, there has always been a suspicion that the Germans continued the war, only in economic means, with its stellar ascent in the second half of the last century, German reunification, and the domination of its stability culture inside the euro area.
He added: “Most recently La France Insoumise, the outspoken left party under Jean-Luc Mélenchon, denounces the arrogance of the German economic model, calling it a monster that represents a danger to the French civilisation.
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“These stereotypes and demeaning prejudices may be normal in the British tabloid press, but were far less common in France and Germany.
“These two narratives are part of the power game between the two and have been going on for decades. Yet, the uptake in German bashing is noticeable.”
He concluded: “This shift in language and identification is something to watch out for when both countries are campaigning towards crucial elections only six months apart.
“Marine Le Pen may no longer have to work on her anti-European narratives if the French press does the job for her.”
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, though, German MEP Gunnar Beck warned that because of Brexit, Paris and Berlin will work together and push for even more EU integration.
He explained: “The UK was a voice of reason in the EU.
“That voice is sadly gone now.
“The UK generally pushed for liberal economic policies, not too much state regulations and on the whole, it was relatively restraint in relation to public borrowing.
“The UK also tried to resist European integration, slowing it down… “
Mr Beck added: “Now that Britain has left, I believe Germany and France have become largely unhinged.
“They will be able to achieve much more.”
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