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 on topics including 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.
The Élysée Treaty and the Treaty of Aachen – the foundations of the Franco-German partnership
On 22 January 1963, the Élysée Treaty put bilateral cooperation between France and Germany on a legal footing. Charles de Gaulle had given his famous “speech to young Germans” in Ludwigsburg on 9 September 1962. Along with the Reconciliation Mass in Reims on 8 July 1962, this marked the start of the unprecedented development of Franco German friendship following the Second World War. A tight network of multi faceted relations developed at all levels of politics, business and society. In honour f the fiftieth anniversary of the Élysée Treaty, Federal Chancellor Merkel and then French President Hollande launched the Franco German Year on 22 September 2012.
The Treaty of Aachen (2019) will raise Franco-German partnership to a new level, as bilateral relations between the two countries will be restructured around the challenges of the future, with a clear focus on their European dimension. The Treaty was signed in Aachen on 22 January 2019, Franco-German Day, by Federal Chancellor Merkel and President Macron.
The Treaty is intended to serve as a guideline for Franco-German relations in the coming decades. Germany and France are pooling their strengths to ensure that they are well equipped to face future challenges in fields such as digital transformation, education and technology. The focus will be on providing increased support to foster integration in border regions. Franco-German cooperation will be deepened, intensified and equipped for the future in order to enable the two countries to stand up together for a strong Europe that is capable of taking action and to take on responsibility for peace and a rules-based order in the world.
Franco German Council of Ministers
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 in 1963, should henceforth be held in the form of joint Councils of Ministers.
The ouncils 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
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.