Franco-German Council of Ministers: Making Europe stronger together
French and German flags, taken before the Franco-German Council of Ministers in Berlin, © Florian Gaertner/photothek.de
When it comes to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic – whether in terms of health policy or social and economic challenges, Germany and France are pulling in the same direction.
At the digital meeting with Federal Chancellor Merkel, President Macron and the two Cabinets, economic issues are also on the agenda.
Fighting the pandemic together – and moving forward together in key sectors
The key theme of the Council of Ministers is ensuring the EU emerges from the pandemic stronger than before. The European economy is to focus even more on extending future technologies – hydrogen, micro electronics and communications – and push ahead with the green and digital transformation. What is more, a consistent and coherent foreign, security and defence policy along with EU crisis preparedness remain central if we are to increase our ability to act on the world stage. Foreign Minister Maas will have extensive talks with his French colleague Jean-Yves Le Drian prior to the Council of Ministers and, as he otherwise does on a weekly basis, coordinate policy on current issues and joint projects in the foreign policy sphere. At the Franco-German Council of Ministers, both foreign ministers are to take the floor in the plenary.
Treaty of Aachen as the cornerstone
The Treaty of Aachen which entered into force on 22 January 2020 forms the cornerstone of Franco-German cooperation. Almost all Franco-German flagship projects agreed prior to the signing of the Treaty in Aachen in 2019 have now been implemented or are underway. The Franco-German Citizens’ Fund, for example, was launched in April 2020 and despite the pandemic supported more than 300 projects in its first year thus bringing the people of Germany and France together in non-bureaucratic fashion. Since beginning its work in spring 2020, the Franco-German Forum for the Future has been focusing on ecological change and on economic and social resilience. It connects local and regional actors from Germany and France to discuss the transformation process in society with them and to devise joint strategies for shaping the future.
A digital Franco-German platform is a new development: ARTE’s European Collection together with the ENTR project as a cooperation between France Média Monde and Deutsche Welle for the European public. The Franco-German Cross-Border Cooperation Committee was set up on 22 January 2020 in Schloss Hambach. Chaired by the Commissioners for Franco-German Cooperation, it aims to make co-existence smoother and facilitate stronger practical connections between people and infrastructure in border regions. It played a mediatory role as part of efforts to contain the pandemic with regard to the sometimes difficult practical issues in the field of border traffic. This can serve as a model for other border regions.
Standing shoulder to shoulder digitally on issues defining Europe’s future
A digital meeting of the Cross-Border Cooperation Committee is also scheduled prior to the Franco-German Council of Ministers to be chaired by the two Commissioners for Franco-German Cooperation, Ministers of State Michael Roth and Clément Beaune. The Committee will present recommendations to the Council of Ministers. The Meseberg Working Group on Climate is also meeting digitally directly before the Council of Ministers under the chairmanship of the two Environment Ministers, Federal Minister Schulze and Minister Pompili. The Franco-German Financial and Economic Council had a video conference on 26 and 27 May 2021 chaired by Federal Ministers Olaf Scholz and Peter Altmaier together with Minister Le Maire.
Franco-German Berlin Declaration for a strong Europe after the pandemic
Today’s Franco-German Declaration focuses on shared momentum to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, on financial, economic and industrial policy initiatives for Europe, on the EU’s green and digital transformation, on the common European foreign, security and defence policy, on crisis preparedness and on bilateral education and cultural policy. A further document highlights projects to implement the Treaty of Aachen. In this document the Franco-German Council of Ministers takes stock of the successful launch of 15 priority projects laid down in the Treaty and agrees new flagship Projects.