Élysée Treaty: 55 years of Franco-German friendship 

Foreign Minister Gabriel and President Macron with the Élysée Treaty (file photo from March 2017)

Foreign Minister Gabriel and President Macron with the Élysée Treaty (file photo from March 2017), © Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

22.01.2018 - Article

President Charles de Gaulle and Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer signed the Franco-German Treaty of Friendship, better known as the Élysée Treaty, on 22 January 1963. It remains as important now as it was then.

Foundation of Franco-German relations

Foreign Minister Gabriel emphasised, “Even fifty-five years on, the Élysée Treaty has lost none of its significance.” It marked the end of the centuries-old rivalry between Germany and France and laid the foundation for close and amicable cooperation. The Élysée Treaty remains the foundation of Franco-German friendship – Germany cooperates more closely with France than with any other country. 

Advancing the European Reform process

Flags of Germany, the European Union and France
Flags of Germany, the European Union and France© Michael Gottschalk/photothek.net

“Fifty-five years on, we need to broaden our perspective,” Gabriel continued. “Germany and France share a common responsibility for the ongoing development of the whole of Europe.” He added that they had to work together to advance the European reform process. “We need to seize the historic opportunity we have with Macron as a committed European: in reforming the economic and monetary union and in making Europe as a whole more stable and more just.”Gabriel said that Germany and France needed to join forces to hold the EU together and at the same time continue to promote their bilateral relations.

Treaty for young people

The Treaty consists of three parts: first it commits both Governments to taking part in regular consultations at governmental level. The Treaty also stipulates close cooperation and coordination on all key issues of foreign, security, youth and cultural policy.
Another important part focuses on young people: the Treaty sets forth that in each country the language of the other should be promoted and also establishes a basis for youth exchanges. As a consequence, the Franco-German Youth Office commenced operations in 1963. Since then, more than 8.4 million young people from France and Germany have participated in around 320,000 exchange programmes and meetings. 

European integration

The Élysée Treaty is one of a number of important steps towards closer relations following the Second World War, not only between Germany and France but also throughout Europe. In 1950, the Schuman Declaration paved the way for close cooperation in the area of coal and steel. In 1951, the European Coal and Steel Community was then established, which in turn prepared the ground for the European Union.
Last but not least, the Élysée Treaty was behind the oft-cited Franco-German driving force for European integration: a powerful tandem working to promote close cooperation between all European states. Gabriel underscored, “It is a fact that without practical Franco-German cooperation, we cannot make progress in Europe.”

Find out more:

Franco-German cooperation