When the European Union works well, the co-operation of three crucial partners is vital: France, Germany and the European Commission. It was the alliance of the Franco-German couple, allied to a powerful commission president in the shape of Jacques Delors, that led to the creation of a single European currency.
So it is a sign of the huge disarray at the heart of the European Union that the current president of the commission, José Manuel Barroso, is feuding openly with the German government. Even a few years ago, this would have been unthinkable. But now Barroso is calling German plans to re-open the Lisbon Treaty “naive”, criticising Germany for being too slow to act on the Greek bail-out, and pointedly reminding the Germans that the euro was all their idea in the first place. German ministers, meanwhile, have responded with even more aggressive language – openly calling Barroso’s charges “absurd”. Privately, top officials in Berlin have been cruelly dismissive of the commission president for months, accusing him of grovelling to secure his re-appointment. Read more