German foreign minister: “German-French relations are absolutely stable.”

While frustration is taking hold in Europe over financial matters, there appears to be a [distracting?] diplomatic row brewing over France’s repatriation of Roma immigrants

The BBC’s Gavin Hewitt noted a “fierce row” between the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, following condemnation of France’s actions by the EU Commission.

The French President, Nicolas Sarkosy, then invoked the support of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel – only for that alleged support to be denied.

But, as a BBC report noted

The BBC’s Oana Lungescu in Brussels says that privately German diplomats dismiss as pure invention Mr Sarkozy’s claim that Germany is prepared to follow France’s example.

Yet the issue of Roma expulsions touches a raw nerve in Germany, our correspondent says.

Under a deal agreed in April, 14,000 refugees are to be returned to Kosovo – 10,000 of them Roma.

The UN children’s agency Unicef warned that half of the Roma to be deported are children, most of whom were born and raised in Germany. But unlike the Roma that France is expelling to Romania and Bulgaria, they do not enjoy the right to return, because they are not EU citizens.

Most of the Roma in Germany live in homes and hostels, not in camps.

And the Irish Times today

The Élysée Palace made no comment on the denial from Berlin yesterday, but senior figures on both sides sought to play down the significance of the episode.

French minister for European affairs Pierre Lellouche insisted there was no problem in Franco-German relations, while German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle also struck a diplomatic tone. “I can only attribute this to a misunderstanding,” he said in Berlin. “German-French relations are absolutely stable.”

Adds  Crooked Timber’s John Quiggin adds

If the Parliament and Commission prevail, as they should, it seems to me that this will change the effective political structure of the EU, in the direction of a federal democracy.

Hmm… I’m not sure they will “prevail”…