By Ray Fleming

RELATIONS between Britain and France face a difficult few weeks. An EU summit meeting later this month will see a return to France and Germany's plans for an economic and budgetary Treaty which Britain is strongly opposed to and France will press the case for early introduction of the so-called Tobin Tax on financial transactions which is also anathema to Britain. The bi-lateral meeting between Britain and France cancelled in December because of the euro-zone crisis has been re-scheduled for February.

In Paris on Thursday the French foreign minister Alain Juppe held a briefing meeting for British journalists at which he tried to look at positive aspects of the relationship between the two countries, among them successful military cooperation over Libya, a common view on handling the Iranian and Syrian crises, and the provisions of the Lancaster House agreement for sharing of nuclear and conventional force capabilities. M. Juppe is a diplomat of the old school but is also one of President Sarkozy's closest advisors and he admitted that David Cameron's “veto” at the December EU summit had been “a moment of truth” for France. He commented: “We don't have the same conception about the evolution of the EU. It's not new, it's been so for half a century and is hardening today.” One could almost hear President de Gaulle's voice adding, “I told you so.”

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