Throughout the duration of the EU summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel wore jackets in white, red and blue — the tricolors of France. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but it was also a symbol of whom Germany was allied with this time round.
Ten years ago, it was not the case.
During the financial crisis, Merkel became the symbol of oppression for Southern Europe with her austerity policies that caused unemployment in that region to rise. But during the pandemic, she changed course and together with France proposed €500 billion in grants from a recovery fund, a fifth of which Germany will fund.
Merkel realized that the pandemic was a bridge too far for Southern Europe and that if this time it was not helped, then the single market and the EU itself would be in mortal danger.
Germany had until then undermined European unity through its Constitutional Court proclaiming supremacy of German law over European law, the Bundesbank refusing to help the European Central Bank in funding Italian debt, and through state aid for its own companies that were in contravention of level playing field principles on the single market.