Breaking with the tradition of pre-EU summit meetings between France and Germany, French leader Nicolas Sarkozy met with his British counterpart, Gordon Brown, to speak out in favour of boosting public investment in Europe as a way to escape an economic slowdown caused by the financial crisis, while Germany remains sceptical.
"We have looked at how, just as many years ago investment in road and rail and infrastructure was a powerful stimulus to the economies then, so too in this new age we can invest in the digital infrastructure for the future," said Mr Brown, the host of the meeting at 10 Downing Street, late on Monday (8 December).
The discussion, attended also by the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, took place just three days before the prime ministers and presidents of all 27 EU member countries gather in Brussels for the last summit under the French EU presidency.
One of the key topics they are due to discuss is a recovery plan worth €200 billion proposed by the EU executive, with the bloc's institutions expected to invest €30 billion in various support schemes and cheap loans for businesses, while individual member states would have to cover the rest of the package out of their national budgets.
But while diplomats predict the joint text supporting the plan will be adopted without major difficulties, Germany had previously voiced the strongest criticism of the strategy and made clear that Berlin would not invest more than the around €32 billion the government had already put aside for its 2009 economy stimulus.
The Sarkozy-Brown-Barroso meeting was also preceded by reports of German Chancellor Angela Merkel having been offended at missing at the mini-summit - reports which she later denied. The three politicians went out of their way on Monday to point out they had spoken with Ms Merkel beforehand.
"There is no disagreement," Mr Sarkozy said after a forum attended by politicians and business leaders at Lancaster House in London.
"We have 27 countries. There cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. I have full confidence in the measures that Germany is making and will make," Mr Barroso added, according to media reports.
Apart from Germany, the two other biggest EU member states have also unveiled their individual plans for injections of public funds into the economy.
Britain is planning to bundle together some €23 billion in various spending measures, including a cut to VAT - a move rejected by all other European countries. Meanwhile, France has announced its government would deploy around €26 billion in additional spending in order to create 80,000-110,000 new jobs.