German-French top meeting should help partnership to fresh impetus

Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron

Before the anniversary meeting on Sunday, Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed the Franco-German friendship in a guest article in the “FAZ”.

(Photo: IMAGO/Xinhua)

Berlin / Paris Different positions on key issues had caused the Franco-German axis to falter in the autumn – the ministerial meeting of the two countries, which was postponed at the time, will now be rescheduled on Sunday on a historic date.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty for the reconciliation of the neighbors, Chancellors come Olaf Scholz (SPD), President Emmanuel Macron and members of both parliaments together in Paris. The focus will be on the topics of economy and energy, security and defense as well as European policy, according to government circles in Berlin and Paris.

The Council of Ministers meeting was originally planned for October, but was then surprisingly canceled. 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 meeting will be held on a historically important date in Franco-German relations. Sunday marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty by then Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and then French President Charles de Gaulle. Eighteen years after the end of the Second World War, the treaty sealed the friendship between the previously enemy countries.

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The meeting begins on Sunday morning with a ceremony on the Élysée Treaty at the Sorbonne University, where representatives of both parliaments come together and the governments are invited as guests. Scholz and Macron want to give speeches alongside the respective presidents of the parliament.

The 23rd so-called Franco-German Council of Ministers, at which the cabinets of both sides meet, will then meet in the afternoon. A joint declaration, which is also intended to outline a vision for the future of Europe, was still being worked on. Finally, a dinner by Macron and Scholz is planned in a restaurant in the French capital.

More armed forces for Europe

Before the meeting and in anticipation of the joint declaration, the Chancellor and the President outlined key points for the future of Europe in a guest article for the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”. “For a strong Europe of tomorrow, we must now invest more in our armed forces and in the foundations of our defense industry invest in Europe.” This improves defense capabilities and also makes Europe a stronger partner for the United States, the article said.

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At the Paris meeting, the question of further support for Russia-attacked Ukraine will be one of the topics of a round with Scholz, Macron and foreign and defense ministers from both sides. On Sunday, however, the French side did not expect a breakthrough on the controversial issue of the delivery of battle tanks. Cooperation in the EU and Nato should be discussed.

The economic part of the meeting, as it was said in Berlin and Paris, should, among other things, deal with cooperation in the energy sector, where both countries help each other with deliveries, the switch to a more climate-friendly economic system and how to deal with the US anti-inflation law, which is worth billions investments in climate protection. However, subsidies and tax credits are linked to the fact that companies use US products or do so themselves USA produce, which is why people in Europe fear disadvantages for domestic companies.

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“We will emphatically advocate an ambitious strategy to promote the competitiveness of European industry and a European environment that encourages competition and innovation (…)”, wrote Scholz and Macron in the “FAZ”, without the feared trade dispute to contact the USA directly.

With a view to the Western Balkans, the Chancellor and the President emphasized that rapid and concrete progress in the EU enlargement process is being sought. At the same time, however, an enlarged EU must remain capable of acting.

The Paris meeting is also about giving the Franco-German partnership fresh impetus. The first participants in the newly created “Generation Europe” network for German and French junior staff will be presented. A Franco-German train ticket for young people, which will make train journeys cheaper, is also to be launched.

Both sides emphasized that commonalities and close cooperation dominated relations between the two countries. In Paris it was said that one was so used to the cooperation with Berlin that it was immediately noticeable when something didn’t work right away. Perhaps the relationship was sometimes viewed too romantically in Paris and more rationally in Berlin.

More: After the Ramstein meeting: no further decision on main battle tanks

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