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Seven months ago, when Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front had a chance of winning the French presidency, Germany feared for France's future. But after Germany's federal election in September, France has not been particularly afraid for its neighbor. Nevertheless, French and German elites have found a common cause for concern: Germany may be unable to seize the exceptional opportunity created by French President Emmanuel Macron's victory. Before, the problem was not that Germany was too strong, but that France was too weak. Now the problem is not that France is too ambitious for Europe, but that Germany is not ambitious enough.Above all, it will require Germany to match France's new audacity.If France and Europe wait until tomorrow to do what should have been done today, then all will have already been lost.The gap between France and Germany is largest when it comes to defense and security, owing to a deep cultural divide between the two countries.With recent elections in Austria and the Czech Republic moving Central Europe toward what might be called an Austro-Hungarian populist empire, Germany has as much at stake in successful EU reform as France does.
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