Merkel and Macron set to enshrine friendship
Angela Merkel has stressed the importance of Germany’s relationship with France ahead of today’s (Tuesday) signing of a bilateral treaty on cross-border ties and economic cooperation.
The German chancellor said that after centuries of war, the current friendship was “anything but self-evident” as she and French President Emmanuel Macron are due to sign a new friendship treaty in the border city of Aachen.
Aachen has changed hands several times and is known in French as Aix-la-Chapelle.
The deal aims to build on the 1963 Elysee Treaty between then-chancellor Konrad Adenauer and former president Charles de Gaulle.
Under the new treaty, France and Germany are set to agree to establish common positions and issue joint statements on major European issues, formalising existing co-operation. From foreign policy to internal and external security, the neighbours are committing to establishing common positions while looking to bolster “Europe’s capacity to act autonomously”.
The treaty commits to deepening economic integration within Franco-German “economic zone”, developing European military capabilities while investing to “fill gaps in capacity, thereby reinforcing” the EU and Nato.
The Treaty of Aachen aims to build “common military culture” through joint deployments and a Franco-German defence and security council.
Arguing that EU countries should not compete among each other for defence contracts but develop products together, Merkel said there would be a need to compromise on export regulations.
“We have very strict export rules, others have less strict rules … But anyone who develops an aeroplane with us would also like to know whether they can sell the plane with us,” Merkel said.
“We will have to make compromises, that is what we are talking about at the moment.”
There is also an agreement to focus on cultural exchanges for younger citizens, language learning and develop a Franco-German university.
Merkel said the new agreement was necessary “because we believe that the world has changed dramatically”, in part because of the European Union.
“We work in Europe, we want to give momentum to European unity,” Merkel said before leaving Berlin. “This dimension wasn’t as planned out in the old treaty.”
She said the Treaty of Aachen would involve more “cross-border cooperation” and more convergence between economic and labour markets.
“We will supplement this contract with a list of projects that will be constantly updated to show how Germany and France continue to work together in Europe,” the veteran chancellor said.
Merkel noted that France and Germany would head the United Nations Security Council for two consecutive months this spring. Cooperation at the UN was seen as an area for development under the treaty.
“Since then, the spirit of the 1963 treaty has been evoked time and again by different French and German governments,” said Professor Dirk Leuffen, a political scientist at the University of Konstanz.
He said there had been no dramatic bilateral shift but it was necessary “to translate the old goals into today’s challenges”.
Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle depicted together. Picture credit: Wikimedia