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Franco‑German cooperation

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In terms of cooperation among the 28 EU member states, the Franco‑German partnership holds a particularly prominent position because of its history, intensity and special institutional architecture.

Close relations: Germany and France
Close relations: Germany and France© photothek.net

France and Germany are linked by an exemplary partnership. This is also expressed by the growing number of joint foreign policy initiatives between the two countries.

The two governments regularly hold bilateral consultations, most recently in Metz on 7 April 2016, where the focus was on integration, refugee policy, the fight against terrorism, and foreign and security policy.

Germany and France also liaise very closely on security policy. The joint Franco‑German Brigade was initially a symbol of both countries’ desire for military cooperation. Along with EUROCORPS, it is regarded as a nucleus for the development of European armed forces under Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) auspices.

Partnership founded on the Élysée Treaty

Franco‑German intergovernmental consultations in 1963
Franco‑German intergovernmental consultations in 1963© BPA

In 1963, the Élysée Treaty put bilateral cooperation between France and Germany on a legal footing. A tight network of multi‑faceted relations developed at all levels of politics, business and society.

The 50th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty was on 22 January 2013. In honour of this occasion, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and François Hollande, then French President, launched the Franco‑German Year in Ludwigsburg on 22 September 2012, where Charles de Gaulle had held his famous speech to the German youth people 50 years earlier. Along with the Reconciliation Mass on 8 July 1962, this marked the start of the unprecedented development of Franco‑German friendship following the Second World War.

The Élysée Treaty (22 January 1963, German or French)

Franco‑German Council of Ministers

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel welcomes the French President Emmanuel Macron in Berlin one day after his inauguration (15 May 2017)
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel welcomes the French President Emmanuel Macron in Berlin one day after his inauguration (15 May 2017)© Bundesregierung/photothek.net

In the Joint Declaration issued on the 40th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty on 22 January 2003, it was agreed that the intergovernmental consultations (summit meetings), which had been held every six months since the Élysée Treaty was signed in1963, should henceforth be held in the form of joint

The Councils of Ministers make it possible to coordinate Franco‑German cooperation at the highest political level. Their agendas focus on particular topics – in general, two topics per Council of Ministers, one of an economic nature, the other on civil society in both countries.

A unique network of joint structures

On the margins of the G20 Summit in Cannes in 2011
On the margins of the G20 Summit in Cannes in 2011© picture-alliance/dpa

The network of joint Franco‑German structures and institutions today is unique. It is supported by close personal connections between the people of both countries. These ties have been built up over decades and are expressed in a large number of town twinning projects and regional partnerships.

It is particularly important that these links be maintained among the younger generation. This means that along with political cooperation, public policy initiatives in areas such as language training, youth exchange and education remain very important.

Minister of State Michael Roth, Commissioner for Franco‑German Cooperation

Minister of State Michael Roth
Minister of State Michael Roth© Michael Farkas

Working closely with his French counterpart Nathalie Loiseau, the Commissioner for Franco‑German Cooperation coordinates Franco‑German relations at government level and promotes closer relations between the two countries’ civil societies.

The Commissioner for Franco-German Cooperation

Germany and France: bilateral relations