There is no other country Germany has closer ties with than France. We are each other’s most important partners and allies.
We demonstrate this every day in a wide range of areas and at many different levels – between our governments, between the Länder and the regions or départements, and, above all, in the close exchange between cities and municipalities, associations, schools and universities – in other words, between people. This close cooperation is also reflected by the growing number of joint foreign policy initiatives between the two countries. One example is the joint trip to Ethiopia by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her French counterpart Catherine Colonna in January 2023.
Security policy cooperation between Germany and France is also very close and has intensified even further since Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine began in February 2022. The Franco-German Defence and Security Council is a forum for discussing current security policy and strategic issues – also with a view to implementing the Treaty of Aachen. It was last convened on 22 January 2023.
The Governments of the two countries also meet for bilateral intergovernmental consultations, if possible on an annual basis, within the framework of the Franco-German Council of Ministers, most recently in Paris on 22 January 2023, on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty. The Franco-German Council of Ministers makes it possible to coordinate Franco‑German cooperation on all issues at the highest political level.
The Élysée Treaty and the Treaty of Aachen – the foundations of the Franco-German partnership
On 22 January 1963, the foundations for the reconciliation between the two countries and their bilateral cooperation were laid by an international treaty: the Élysée Treaty. The close cooperation between the two Governments and the establishment on 5 July 1963 of the Franco-German Youth Office for the promotion of youth exchange are important cornerstones of the Treaty that have stood the test of time. In 2019, with the signing of the Treaty of Aachen by then German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, the partnership was further deepened and intensified, focusing on new challenges such as climate action and the digital transformation, and placed at the service of Europe and the European Union.
In connection with the signing of the Treaty of Aachen, a list of 15 priority projects was adopted in 2019, the majority of which have now been implemented. These include, for example, the Franco-German Citizens’ Fund, which has already supported more than 1000 projects for an active European civil society since its creation in April 2020. Integration in the border regions is a further priority. The Franco-German Cross-Border Cooperation Committee was created to this end. The Committee aims to identify and remove obstacles to cross-border coexistence by involving key decision-makers – on both sides of the border and across all federal and administrative levels. The Franco-German Forum for the Future created at the time collaborates with local and regional stakeholders and publishes policy recommendations, most recently on the issue of the socio-ecological transformation in May 2022.
Creating new networks for the young generation
It is important to keep on renewing the close network of Franco-German ties, especially among younger generations. With this in mind, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron launched the Franco-German young people’s network Generation Europe at the Franco-German Council of Ministers in 2023. Within this framework, young people up to the age of 35 from a wide range of backgrounds will be able to bring their personal strengths and experience to bear in the service of Franco-German cooperation.
Other socio-political initiatives and strategies to promote each other’s language also help to promote mutual understanding. Franco-German cooperation is not something that can be taken for granted but is a work in progress.
Cross-border cooperation between Germany and France
The diversity and benefits of Franco-German cooperation are reflected in the everyday lives of people in the border regions. The interdependence of government bodies as well as of people and the economy continues to increase. Examples of this include the joint management and maintenance of the Rhine, cross-border access to health services and the construction of the first cross-border tramline between Kehl and Strasbourg. Topics of the future also feature, such as the cross-border testing ground for automated driving in the Saarland/Metz region and the trilateral academic alliance European Campus – EUCOR, which is made up of the universities of Freiburg, Karlsruhe, Strasbourg, Colmar/Mulhouse and Basel.
The Treaty of Aachen also established, among other things, the Franco-German Cross-Border Cooperation Committee, which is composed of representatives of the national governments, the national parliaments, the Länder and regions or départements and cross-border regional and local authorities in what are known as eurodistricts. The Franco-German Cross-Border Cooperation Committee seeks in concrete terms to overcome obstacles to coexistence in the border region. It complements the multilateral structures of the Upper Rhine Conference (Germany, France and Switzerland on the Upper Rhine), which have been established since the mid-1970s, and what is known as the Greater Region, consisting of Luxembourg, France and Belgium.
Find out more
•Relations with Germany
•German Embassy in Paris
•Franco-German Youth Office
•Website of the Franco-German University
Secretary of State for Europe Dr Anna Lührmann is the Commissioner for German-French Cooperation. She coordinates political relations with France and works towards a broad-based societal exchange between the two countries.