“The Franco-German couple? That never happened!” explains Claude Martin right at the beginning of the conversation. The former ambassador of France in China (1990-1993) and then in Germany (1999-2007) once firmly believed in it. As a child of the time of the liberation, he can still well remember the meeting between General de Gaulle and the German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in 1963, which finally sealed the reconciliation between the two countries.

The famous Élysée Treaty could have been the start of an ambitious European project. But EU enlargement, squabbling between oversized egos, and the recent strengthening of NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have pushed all of that into the background.