Less than a month after his appointment, Gabriel Attal will have wasted no time in planning his first European trip. The Prime Minister is expected in Berlin today, Matignon confirmed, and will meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The German leader was quick to congratulate the new head of government on social networks the day of his arrival in Matignon. “I look forward to continuing and strengthening our cooperation,” he wrote, in French. Although Steffen Hebestreit, the spokesperson for the German government, later reported that Olaf Scholz was “quite surprised” by Emmanuel Macron’s choice, “like many French observers”.
“Kiss Bald!” (see you soon!), replied Gabriel Attal, who stands out for his speed in traveling across the Rhine. We have to go back to François Fillon, who traveled to Berlin in June 2007 - a month and a half after taking office - to find such eagerness. Élisabeth Borne committed to the European field five months after being appointed by first going to Portugal, while Jean Castex opted for Belgium and Édouard Philippe Estonia.
“An ever more united France and Germany is a Europe that is ever stronger and moving forward,” argued Gabriel Attal while the Franco-German couple has been on the decline for several years now. Between the two driving countries of the European Union, there are numerous strategic differences on defense and energy despite the celebration, in January 2023, of the 60th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty. To move forward despite everything, there are numerous visits to both sides of the Rhine, like Emmanuel Macron's trip last week to Berlin. Gabriel Attal had already met Olaf Scholz on the sidelines of a Franco-German seminar organized in Hamburg last October.
Less than five months before the European elections, the Prime Minister also intends to take advantage of this trip to note similarities between the two countries. In addition to the anger of farmers and the growing denunciation of ecological standards, the far right is on track to record significant scores next June in Germany and in France. Although the AFD is embroiled in a strong controversy after German party officials worked on a “remigration” project, to the point that Marine Le Pen herself was forced to distance herself from this political group.
While the Macronists regularly remind us that the AFD and the RN sit together in the same group in the European Parliament, “Identity and democracy”, the comments made by Gabriel Attal in Germany will be scrutinized. The Prime Minister, who must speak to the French community this evening, intends to make his voice heard ahead of the vote, while the majority has still not decided on the choice of their head of list.
The Prime Minister will be helped by the strong response his appointment receives in Germany, as in the rest of the countries on the continent. Many German press titles devoted portraits to the 34-year-old “mini Macron”, as the popular Bild calls him. And his generational face-to-face with the president of the RN, Jordan Bardella, is highlighted. Against populism, “we will all have to get involved, with the Prime Minister in the lead”. “Faced with this danger, Gabriel Attal is a fighter that I cannot imagine being in retreat,” explained Macronist MEP (Renew) Ilana Cicurel recently. Behind the formal contours of Gabriel Attal's trip, it is therefore above all his first steps as implicit head of the list of the Macronist camp - which plans to choose its candidate in mid-February - which will be analyzed.