The Telegraph, which has had a few ringside seats for these kinds of Franco-German spats, tells us that there are differences between the two Continental states, and those differences are sometimes a source of friction. Perish the thought.
The ministry’s paper said: “French industry is increasingly losing its competitiveness. The relocation of companies abroad continues. Profitability is meagre.”
Relations between France and Germany are chilly after Mr Hollande’s Socialist party accused Mrs Merkel of “egotistical intransigence” and called for “democratic confrontation” with Berlin.
While France clings to its totemic 35-hour working week, workers in Germany are increasingly discontented at having to endure years of low pay rises.
It points out that France has the “second lowest annual working time” in the European Union, while its “tax and social security burden” is the highest in the eurozone. It also warns that France has made too little investment in research and development.
One cannot but think of the stereotypes of the humorless, hard-working German looking over his factory apron at his lazy, decadent French neighbor with contempt and frustration, while the Frenchman stares back from his sidewalk table, eating his wine and cheese, confident of his moral and cultural superiority.
What could go wrong? It isn’t like these two countries would actually fight over something. That would be unprecedented….