For years, the strongest element in European politics has been a deep co-operation between France and germany on the direction of the EU, as both worked together to strengthen the Euro, common policies and common economics. But it looks like Sarkozy has other ideas.
To cancel one high-level Franco-German meeting is unfortunate. To cancel two in less than a week implies a bank of freezing fog is descending over the Rhine.Whereas Merkel's initial love affair with the Bush administration seemed to disappear after one infamous occasion when Dubya got overly-familiar.
French and German officials sought yesterday to play down the significance of the abrupt postponement – both by Paris – of two meetings between the countries' most senior politicians.
Privately, and not so privately, the talk in both capitals is of a serious rift in the single most important national partnership in Europe. Officials blame an increasingly difficult relationship between President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel.
With France scheduled to take the presidency of the European Union in July, the Franco-German tiff could not be timed worse.
...At the heart of the quarrel – not yet an overt crisis – is the strained relationship between the two leaders.
German officials say that the hyperactive and boastful behaviour of the French President – and his over-familiar personal style – has irritated Ms Merkel. French officials suggest M. Sarkozy finds Ms Merkel too cautious and too ponderous. French diplomats also complain that M. Sarkozy – in his determination to shake up all aspects of French government – wants to play down the Paris-Berlin relationship that has been the bedrock of France's domestic and European policy for half a century. "For Sarkozy, the West very much means UK and the US," one French source said.
The answer for Germany, it seems to me, is to somehow arrange for Bush and Sarkozy's new supermodel wife to be in the same room together and wait for the inevitable diplomatic incident.