Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron will sign a new treaty on Franco-German friendship in Aachen today (22 January). The Élysée Treaty of 1963 played a crucial role in the historic reconciliation between France and Germany after the Second World War. It said “no” to the notion that the two countries were sworn enemies, “no” to war and destruction and “yes” to friendship and Europe. Germany and France are now pooling their strengths in the ambitious Treaty of Aachen and aim to play a greater role together in international politics. What are the most important points of the Treaty of Aachen?
Working together for Europe
Germany and France will liaise even more closely in the run-up to major European meetings in the future, with the aim of achieving as many joint positions and ministerial statements as possible. In this way, the two countries will actively foster a sovereign, effective and united Europe that is capable of taking action. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas commented as follows:
We are putting our friendship in the service of a strong, functioning Europe, with concrete everyday solutions that could pave the way for a #EuropeUnited.
Security and development
Under the Treaty, both countries will further develop Europe’s military capabilities and coherence. Their armed forces will work more closely together, including on joint deployments. Germany and France will develop a common approach to arms exports in joint projects. On a very practical level, they will set up a Franco-German Defence and Security Council, which will meet regularly at the highest level.
Germany and France want to establish an ever-closer partnership with Africa. The focus will be on the private sector, vocational training and women’s empowerment. An annual dialogue will be launched immediately to enable the two countries to plan and implement their strategies on international development policy more effectively together.
Europe is only strong if it is united. That can be seen particularly clearly at the United Nations. Germany and France want to do their utmost to achieve a united EU position in the UN’s important organs. They also support UN Security Council reform and want Germany to become a permanent member of the Security Council.
Young people, education and research
Young people are at the heart of the Franco-German future. Mobility and youth exchange programmes are thus an important part of the Treaty. The Franco-German Youth Office, integrated cultural institutes and a digital platform will foster this exchange to a greater extent. One aim is that German pupils will learn more French, while their French counterparts will learn more German. Recognition of school-leaving qualifications is to be made easier and the number of Franco-German degrees is to be increased. A Franco-German forum for the future will bring academics and intellectuals from both countries together.
No borders for cooperation and business
Germany and France want to make daily life for people in border regions easier. They intend to promote bilingualism in these regions, to improve joint rail and tram connections, and to join up digital networks more effectively. Pragmatic regulations are to make it easier to carry out business projects in the border region. A joint Council of Economic Experts is to improve integration between the two economies, ultimately facilitating a Franco-German economic area. Both countries plan to expand town twinning and joint initiatives by the public. After the signing of the Élysée Treaty, there were around 100 town-twinning partnerships. Today, some 2200 partnerships exist.