Elysee Treaty: A Cornerstone of Cooperation
France and Germany are celebrating this year the 50th Anniversary of the Elysée Treaty. On the 22nd of January 1963, General de Gaulle and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer committed to embark on the road of reconciliation between Germany and France to steer towards mutual understanding and closer cooperation. For the two countries it was a historic moment, charged with emotions. General de Gaulle and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer knew that they would be shaping the future course of Franco-German relations, and of the European integration.
Since then, our relations have grown and matured in all fields: politics, security, economy, youth exchanges, cultural and intellectual exchanges, to name only a few. The 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty provides a good opportunity to look back at the success of the German-French cooperation which paved the way to European integration as a whole, but also to set new objectives to the bilateral cooperation for the next decades, with the ambition to pursue and deepen the process of European integration.
Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande met on January 22 (today), along with parliamentarians and ministers, to mark one of the key dates of this FrancoGerman year of celebrations launched in September 2012.
We would like to highlight on this special occasion the strength and depth of the relations between Germany and France. There is a need for many Europeans, and we also believe, for people from South Asia, to have a clearer insight into the reconciliation process between two century-old arch-enemies and the ensuing cooperation between France and Germany. The Elysée Treaty made regular meetings between civil servants an obligation. It might be surprising for a Pakistani reader but nowadays representatives from both countries are integrated in both foreign ministries’ cabinets.
It is little known, but German companies employ 320,000 employees in France, and French companies, 285,000 employees in Germany. More than 8 million students have participated in programmes through the creation of the French-German Youth Office, and more than 61,000 students went on exchange programmes to France and Germany in 2011 alone. De Gaulle and Adenauer were visionary in the emphasis they placed on building up trust between the young generations in both countries.
The bilateral defence cooperation is intense, dynamic and remains essential for France’s and Germany’s strategic objectives. In the centre of this cooperation is the French-German Brigade created in 1989 (consisting of 2, 800 German and 2,300 French soldiers). The joint brigade has become a worldwide model for close cooperation in security and defence.
The Franco-German TV channel Arte presents a good example of our close cooperation in the field of culture. Since its creation in 1990, Arte positioned itself as a reference in terms of quality and variety of programmes from both countries. Just like the “Aman ki Asha” initiative promotes understanding and exchanges between India and Pakistan, this joint media venture has been an important vehicle of dialogue between France and Germany.
Germany and France are key founding members of the European Union. The Elysée Treaty remains the cornerstone of cooperation between our two countries, which is the main engine of the European Union; the two countries represent 33% of the EU population, 36% of the European Budget, 37% of the EU GDP, 31% of the voting rights. In the past few months, we have been working together, along with the other European countries, to push forward decisive actions to overcome the Eurozone crisis.
Robert Schuman, one of the founding fathers of the European Union, noted “Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity”. Building a lasting peace, and cooperating with your neighbours, requires creativity, commitment and is neither easy nor straightforward, it demands commitment and creativity. But the results can be surprising and if leaders of both countries had their doubts and their reserves about the Elysée Treaty in 1963, 50 years onwards it provided the basis of a deep rooted and inspiring friendship.