It looked to be a cut and dried plan: President Sarkozy wanted to win over his southern neighbours to form a Mediterranean union as a counterweight against German dominance in Europe. Angela Merkel lost no time in nipping this scheme in the bud – but is it content to remain a footnote of history?
Wolf Lepenies sees the French dream of a Mediterranean power stronghold as harking back to the subliminal regions of European history, where the inferiority complexes and mutual resentments still fester to this day. Franco-German rivalry has its origins in the contrasts between Catholicism and Protestantism, between the more meticulous, »stricter« North and the less regimented and more pleasure-loving South – concepts and stereo-types that date back to the 18th century and are progressively resurfacing in political debate today. Wolf Lepenies sheds light on this startling and little-known slice of Euro-pean history, providing essential reading for anyone wanting to gain a deeper understanding of how coalitions and fronts within Europe come about.