60 years of the Elysée Treaty: Franco-German rehearsal
60 years ago, the former wartime enemies Germany and France formed a friendship for Europe with the Elysée Treaty. Recently, however, there has been quite a crunch between the neighbors.
Germany and France want to move closer together again after considerable tensions in the past few months.
The Federal Chancellor travels to do this Olaf Scholz (SPD) on Sunday morning with his cabinet to Paris, where the consultations with the French government, which were postponed in October, will be held on a historic date. The Élysée Treaty was signed 60 years ago to reconcile the two former wartime enemies. To this day, it is considered the basis for Franco-German friendship.
To mark the anniversary, the two parliaments will hold a ceremony at the renowned Sorbonne University, in which the governments will take part. At the subsequent joint cabinet meeting, the topics of economy and energy, security and defense as well as Europe are on the agenda. The result should be a joint declaration that sets out a vision for the future Europe should sketch.
In a joint article for the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” and the “Journal du Dimanche”, Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron wrote that they wanted to make the EU an “even stronger leader of hope”. “60 years after the signing of the Elysée Treaty Germany and France agree when they look at the fundamental questions about the future of Europe.”
Battle tanks should be an issue
The consultations will include, among other things, further support for the Ukraine in their defensive struggle against the Russian attackers. Scholz is being urged by Ukraine and several allies to clear the way for deliveries of Leopard 2 main battle tanks. Because these tanks are produced in Germany, the federal government has a right of veto if they are passed on from other countries. So you play a key role, but Scholz has not yet decided. It is also unclear whether France wants to send its Leclerc main battle tank to Ukraine.
The coordination of arms deliveries to Ukraine has not gone well between the two governments recently. In early January, Macron pushed ahead with the decision on reconnaissance and armored personnel carriers and announced it a day before Scholz and US President Joe Biden.
Differences in overcoming the consequences of the war
But there was already Franco-German resentment when dealing with the consequences of the Ukraine war: last autumn, France was displeased with German resistance to a European gas price cap and the federal government’s 200 billion program to cushion high energy costs. At the time, Macron accused Germany of isolating itself in Europe.
The head of the Munich Security Conference, Christoph Heusgen, sees responsibility for the tensions in Franco-German relations on both sides. “Certainly, France was not always taken into account on the German side. But even France does not always act in a European way,” he told the German Press Agency.
The former foreign policy advisor to Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is now hoping for a turn for the better. “It is important that there is political will to cooperate. And the anniversary of the Elysée Treaty is an excellent opportunity to clearly emphasize to the outside world that Germany and France are aware of their historical responsibility that they must work closely together.” In the face of global competition, Europe has to function right now in order not to be left behind. “If Germany and France don’t agree, Europe stagnates.”
US inflation law deliberations
The meeting of the Franco-German Council of Ministers was surprisingly canceled in October. The German side justified this with the ongoing need for coordination. At the time, it was said from the Élysée Palace that the important issues of defense and energy had to be discussed further. The economic part of the consultations will now deal, among other things, with cooperation in the energy sector, where both countries help each other with deliveries and with the transition to a more climate-friendly economic system.
In addition, dealing with the US inflation control law should take up a lot of space, which provides for billions in investments in climate protection. However, subsidies and tax credits are linked to companies using US products or producing them themselves in the USA, which is why people in Europe fear disadvantages for domestic companies. “We will be firmly committed to an ambitious strategy to boost the competitiveness of European industry and to a European environment that stimulates competition and innovation,” Scholz and Macron wrote in their joint newspaper article.