The circumstances of the last-minute cancellation of a dinner between Angela Merkel, German chancellor, and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France on Monday threaten to become a minor diplomatic incident, with French concerns about German budget cuts emerging as the real cause.
"The appointment was postponed at France's initiative, with mutual agreement," Ulrich Wilhelm, the chancellor's spokesman, said on Wednesday. There was no disagreement between the governments and nothing political about the reasons for postponement, he said.
Ms Merkel has gone further by insisting that the Franco-German relationship "is not stuttering".
However, Mr Sarkozy told his cabinet on Wednesday that he wanted to delay the meeting because he would not have been sufficiently well briefed about Germany's austerity package to be able to discuss it with his German counterpart.
The real difficulty, however, is not the dinner but the disagreement. Merkel seems to be determined to retrench her way out of the crisis. Sarkozy thinks this is folly. The euro, and Europe, hang in the balance. That is not an overstatement, alas.