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June 28, 2021

France and Germany Relations after the Elysee Treaty and Its Amendments

Photo by Leon on Pexels.

The Franco-German partnership has been and continues to be the driving force in Europe since the postwar period and the signing of the Elysee Treaty in 1963. Because of the Elysee Treaty and its revision in 1988, the governments’ cooperation is extremely close and institutionalized. Here are a few examples as per USA Wire:  semi-annual government consultations (summits) that have been held since 1999 and have focused on contemporary societal issues in both nations, going beyond simple government cooperation. The German-French Security and Defense Council, the Councils for Economic, Financial, and Environmental Affairs, and the Coordinators for German-French Cooperation, all of which focus on civil society today. Furthermore, from the beginning of 2001, the chiefs of state and government, as well as the foreign ministers of both countries, have met informally every 6-8 weeks for an open and intensive discussion on current European and worldwide issues. Both countries pioneered a defense strategy by establishing the Euro corps, and both are actively involved in the development of a European Security and Defense Policy as reported in USA Wire News. In international armament cooperation, Germany and France are each other’s most essential partners. In Europe, France is Germany’s closest and most significant partner. It coordinates all of its policies more comprehensively and regularly than any other country. On the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Elysee Treaty, the German Bundestag and the National Assembly held a combined plenary session to reaffirm and strengthen their close cooperation, including:

  • Joint sessions of the two parliaments’ foreign affairs committees.
  • Regular exchanges of opinions between German and French political parties.
  • Meetings of the two parliamentary speakers on an annual basis.
  • Friendship organizations in both houses.
  • A program for parliamentary assistants to exchange ideas.
  • Parliamentarians’ short observation visits to their counterparts in the two nations.

Underlying Strategies for German-France Friendship

International politics is not haphazard; rather, it is guided by deep-seated strategies. Geopolitical, economic, and generational change has shifted the postwar Franco-German alliance into new directions. It is still being patched up after they overcame their “Erbfeindschaft” when reunification became possible. In the 1950s, after decades of tense relations based on conflict, Germany and France began to become closer. In the postwar years, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, and his adviser Jean Monnet all played key roles in active European integration programs as seen in Republican News Sources. After a series of visits between Adenauer and French President Charles de Gaulle, relations improved, finally leading to the signing of a treaty in which the two governments agreed to discuss all relevant issues of foreign policy, security, youth, and culture.

By far the most important trading partners for each other are Germany and France. Germany shipped 11% of its total exports to France in 2001, whereas France sold 14% of its total exports to Germany. Both countries have seen large direct investments as a result of their strong trading ties. German direct investments in France totaled EUR 23 billion at the end of 2000, whereas France had invested EUR 29 billion in Germany. France was the leading nation of origin for foreign investments in former East Germany in the years following German reunification. The two countries’ economies together account for more than half of the Eurozone’s economic output. France’s top trading partner is Germany, and vice versa. In 2003, Germany exported 10.6% of its goods to France, whereas France exported 14.8 percent of its goods to Germany as per USA Wire. The figures for the first half of 2004 back up this claim to the top. Because of the huge level of trade, both countries have seen considerable direct investments. After the United States, France is the second-largest direct investor in the new federal states.

Cultural Relations

Since the 1950s, and especially since the signing of the Elysee Treaty (on January 22, 1963), Germany and France have had the closest social ties of any two countries. The Franco-German Youth Office coordinates youth exchange (up to 200,000 participants each year in roughly 7,000 programs over seven million have participated since 1963), as well as twinning connections between towns and regions (2,200 in all) and educational institutions (some 4,300).

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