Merkel and Macron Try to Make Up With a Dinner at The Savoy

Helene Fouquet

(Bloomberg) -- Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel needed to have a talk.

The French and German leaders sat down for two hours at the Savoy hotel in London to patch things up. Chancellor Merkel initiated the Tuesday dinner, which was at celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant.

With only their top diplomats sitting in at the table, they sought to end weeks of growing tension and disagreement, mainly over how they handle sensitive policy issues, like Macron’s blockbuster interview in the Economist last month that questioned the state of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and if Russia should be brought closer into the European fold, according to a French official.

The long talk was fruitful, said the official, who asked not to be identified, citing Elysee Palace rules. Still, Macron is Macron, and will continue with his disruptive style.

And while Germany may not be comfortable with the French leader’s style, it agrees with his overall vision of redefining the strategic pillars of NATO and the position of Russia, the official said.

European Disconnect

Merkel’s spokesman confirmed that the chancellery had a discussion over dinner late Tuesday, but declined to say whether they addressed differences or coordinated their position on NATO or Russia.

The meeting comes at a significant time for France and Germany, the core economies driving the European Union. Merkel’s coalition government is hanging on by a thread, calling into question how much power she still wields both at home and within the EU. Macron has taken the moment to seize greater leadership in the bloc, and has pushed forward with his effort to accelerate reforms on the continent.

The two nations agree on many issues, including tightening strategic and industrial treaties. But they have also become disconnected over the pace of Macron’s reform efforts, and Merkel has become irked by the French leader’s style.

Merkel and Macron discussed their relations, but also matters of foreign policy, including the landmark arms-control pact, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which expired earlier this year, and the upcoming Dec. 9 Paris meeting on Ukraine. The official declined to detail a strategy that the two leaders prepared for that meeting.

--With assistance from Patrick Donahue.

To contact the reporter on this story: Helene Fouquet in Paris at hfouquet1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net, ;Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Richard Bravo, Andrew Atkinson

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