Together for Europe: Germany and France sign Aachen contract

10.01.2019 - Article

Germany and France join forces with ambitious treaty and commit to a strong and sovereign Europe, writes the German Foreign Office.

Emmanuel Macron was beeing awarded the International Charlemagne Prize of the City of Aachen in May 2018. The prize honours services to European integration.
Emmanuel Macron was beeing awarded the International Charlemagne Prize of the City of Aachen in May 2018. The prize honours services to European integration.© SVEN SIMON

Why a new Franco-German Treaty?

In January 2018, Federal Chancellor Merkel and President Macron agreed to negotiate a new, ambitious Franco-German Treaty, with a view to establishing a new level of bilateral cooperation and through which Germany and France can jointly prepare to tackle the upcoming European, foreign, security, social and economic policy challenges. The new Treaty will be signed on January 22, 2019 – the Franco-German Day commemorating the signing of the Élysée Treaty 1963 – in Aachen.

Relationship with the Élysée Treaty of 1963:

The new Treaty will be on an equal footing with the Élysée Treaty of 1963. Instead of replacing the Élysée Treaty of 1963, the new Treaty will build on it. In 1963, the focus was on promoting reconciliation and fostering encounters – which at the time were by no means a matter of course. Ending rivalries and conflicts that had lasted for hundreds of years, Germany and France signalled that they were seeking reconciliation. They thereby laid the foundation for close bilateral cooperation and further European integration. We are picking up where the first agreement leaves off, by now taking our partnership to the next level.

Main objective of the new Treaty:

The new Treaty sets out a modern and forward-looking basis for even closer cooperation with France, our most important partner. The main aim of the new Treaty is to create a secure future for citizens and to draw them closer together. Cooperation is being brought up to date – also with regard to Europe, preserving our values-based multilateral order and adapting to changes in our societies. The main areas of activity are culture, education, science, cross-border cooperation and innovation.

Shortly after his return from Paris, former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer speaks at the airport about the German-French friendship treaty, the Élysée Treaty.
Shortly after his return from Paris, former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer speaks at the airport about the German-French friendship treaty, the Élysée Treaty.© dpa

Goals to be pursued through the Treaty:

The Treaty will promote encounters and exchanges at the level of civil society. A Joint Citizens’ Fund that opens up new opportunities for encounters, digital platforms, and media cooperation projects, will be established with the long-term goal of creating a common cultural and media space and a European public area that can stem the growing tide of populism. Other parts of the Treaty aim to draw our two countries closer together in the spheres of education, research, mutual language acquisition and enhanced mobility, also by promoting mutual recognition of school diplomas and vocational training certificates.

  • In border areas, we will jointly develop innovative European solutions that promote better European integration. To this end, local actors will be given new freedoms and can try out new approaches. A new cross-border cooperation committee will be established, the task of which will be to determine in what areas further development and regulations are needed, and to facilitate and promote the implementation of specific cross-border projects such as commercial zones, nurseries, healthcare provision, and educational institutes. All this will make day-to-day life much easier for our citizens.
  • Campaigning together for a strong Europe. Our bilateral cooperation is designed to advance the European project – in full knowledge that it can always only be part of a process to build consensus throughout Europe. For this reason, we have agreed to more effectively coordinate our European policies through common positions and to liaise more closely regarding transposition of EU legislation into national law.
  • Adapting to new challenges in the foreign and security policy environment. This includes developing joint strategies for strengthening the European defence union, for a close partnership with Africa, for peacekeeping and police operations and for closer coordination in international fora (IMF, World Bank, UN). A Franco-German Defence and Security Council will be established as a political steering body for cooperation on security issues.
  • Jointly tackling the challenges of a globalised world and launching visionary projects. This includes promoting joint efforts and developing strategies with a view to transforming our economies and fighting climate change. To future-proof our economies and make them more competitive, we will increasingly coordinate our economic policies and establish a Council of Economic Experts. A Franco-German “Zukunftswerk” – a forum in which we can jointly discuss transformation processes – will interlink political, business, research and civil society actors. Research and the digital transformation will be advanced by an initiative to promote innovation, improve coordination processes and establish joint ethical guidelines.

Relationship to Europe:

A European flag in Berlin.
A European flag in Berlin.© dpa

Through this Treaty, Germany and France will work together even more closely. In the 21st century, the international order appears to be growing more fragile, and the multilateral system is coming under increasing pressure. Much of Europe’s immediate neighbourhood is marked by conflict and instability. Although the globalised world and the rapid pace of technological progress do present opportunities, our societies must also undergo painful transformations so that we can have a secure future.

We can only master these challenges by acting together, as Europeans. For this to succeed, all member states of the European Union must be part of the effort. If Germany and France are to remain the key drivers, we must take our cooperation to a new level, and that is what the new Franco-German Treaty aims to do. The underlying principle is that cooperation between Germany and France is never meant to exclude others, but rather remains open for all European Union member states. Both countries hope that new models of bilateral cooperation can serve as a nucleus for European cooperation.

Design of the Treaty:

The Treaty is intended to serve as a guideline for Franco-German relations in the coming decades. It is therefore a generic and very abstract text; in many instances, details must be provided regarding how the goals agreed in the Treaty will be implemented. For this purpose, a list of projects for the implementation of the Treaty will be agreed with the French side for all areas that it covers. This list will not be part of the Treaty, but rather will serve as a medium-term agenda, to be updated continuously, for Franco-German cooperation in the context of the Franco-German Councils of Ministers.

France and Germany jointly want to tackle the challenges of a globalised world - like climate change.
France and Germany jointly want to tackle the challenges of a globalised world - like climate change.© picture alliance

Involvement of other actors regarding content of the Treaty:

The text of the Treaty was drawn up with the comprehensive involvement of all key actors. Of particular note in this regard is intensive cooperation with the Franco-German working group of the German Bundestag and the French National Assembly, which presented its proposals in the form of joint position papers. Because the Treaty also addresses areas that are exclusively within the remit of the Länder, these were constantly involved in the process, in accordance with the Lindau Agreement. Furthermore, the Federal Ministries were part of the entire negotiation process. Finally, various interest groups, eurodistricts and Franco-German civil society institutions presented issues that they wanted to see addressed in the new Treaty.

Further steps:

Once it has been signed and both countries have fulfilled the national requirements for entry into force, the Treaty will enter into force in accordance with a procedure that replaces ratification (i.e. via legislative approval).
A Franco-German Council of Ministers will then initiate the process of implementing the goals set out in the Treaty, as well as adopt a Franco-German agenda. Furthermore, the role of the Commissioners for Franco-German Cooperation – Minister of State Roth and France’s Minister for European Affairs Loiseau – will be strengthened by newly instituted regular reports to our governments and parliaments on the state of our bilateral relations and the deepening of our cooperation. The Treaty will also strengthen decentralised cooperation at the level of the Länder/regions, the German Bundesrat/the French Senate and municipal governments.

© German Foreign Office

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