In sunnier times, they used to talk about the “Franco-German engine,” the economic and political motor at the heart of the European project. Today, at least as far as Europe’s economy is concerned, the engine is spluttering. As Philippe Legrain argues in his piece in the new issue of Prospect, “das Modell Deutschland” is looking rather threadbare. Between April and June this year, the German economy posted negative growth of -0.2 per cent (whereas the figure for the second quarter of 2014 in the eurozone as a whole was 0.3 per cent). There was no room for schadenfreude outre-Rhin, however. France’s economic performance in the same period was barely less anaemic. For the second quarter running, French GDP remained unchanged, while private investment fell and unemployment stayed stubbornly high (in June, 10.2 per cent of the working population were unemployed).