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France and Germany must 'overcome difficulties' to prevent rise of populism, Attal says

On his first trip abroad as Prime Minister, France's Gabriel Attal called for a reboot of Franco-German relations, saying the two countries needed to rise above their disagreements and prevent the swing towards populism and extremism.


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"The Franco-German friendship is one of the great opportunities in our history," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told a joint press conference after meeting France's Prime Minister Gabriel Attal in Berlin on Monday evening.

"Faced with uncertainties linked to wars, inflation, global warming, the two countries will need to work closely together to prevent momentum for far-right populist movements," Scholz added.

A "sharp right turn" is likely to sweep European Union elections this year, with populists, eurosceptics and conservatives projected to collectively grab nearly half of the European Parliament's seats in June, according to a study by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) published last month

"We measure the strength of Europe by the solidity of Franco-German friendship, that our two nations move forward together and Europe can accelerate, develops and regain its power," Attal added.

Attempts to scuttle Europe

Despite the show of diplomatic entente, however, there are many points of friction between Paris and Berlin and officials from both countries are keen show their determination to put the relationship back on track.

Any form of division between countries like Germany and France would risk making the rest of Europe hesitant, Attal said.

"The far-right parties "have one thing in common: they want to deconstruct Europe," Attal said.

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