Recently there has been quite a crunch between Germany and France. Scholz and Macron are now making the anniversary of the Élysée contract a big show of reconciliation.
After considerable tensions in recent months, Germany and France have reiterated the importance of their friendship for the future of Europe on the 60th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty. French President Emmanuel Macron said at a ceremony at the Sorbonne University in Paris that for him Germany and France were like “two souls in one breast”. “To speak for a French person about Germany means to speak about a part of oneself,” he told more than 30 ministers from both governments and around 200 members of parliament.
“German-French engine is a compromise machine”
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) thanked the “French brothers and sisters” in French for their friendship. He regarded the differences of opinion between the two countries as normal in such close cooperation. “The Franco-German engine is a compromise machine – well oiled, but sometimes loud and marked by hard work,” said Scholz. “He doesn’t get his drive from sweet cuddles and empty symbolism. But from our firm will to repeatedly convert controversies and differences of interest into aligned actions.”
60 years ago, the Élysée Treaty was signed in Paris to reconcile the two former arch-enemies and opponents of the war. To this day, it is considered the basis for Franco-German cooperation. For the anniversary ceremony and the subsequent deliberations of both governments, Scholz was accompanied to Paris by his almost complete cabinet. Only Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) was absent due to illness. More than 100 members of the Bundestag traveled in a second plane, led by Parliament President Bärbel Bas (SPD).
Scholz thanks Macron for the Sorbonne speech
In the same hall where the ceremony took place, Macron drafted his vision of a sovereign Europe a good five years ago, which caused a stir. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) did not respond to this request until the end of her term in office. Scholz reacted last summer with a keynote speech on European policy in Prague, in which he did not go into detail about the importance of Franco-German friendship for Europe.
In Paris, Scholz thanked Macron for his Sorbonne speech. “Today we are working side by side to strengthen Europe’s sovereignty,” he stressed. The forces must be pooled precisely where the nation states would have lost their assertiveness on their own: “In safeguarding our values in the world, in protecting our democracy against authoritarian forces. But also in the competition for modern technologies, in securing raw materials, in energy supply or in space travel,” said Scholz.
Macron hugs Scholz – “will, courage and strength”
Macron warmly greeted the Chancellor with a hug in front of the Sorbonne. Germany and France are determined to make their friendship “one of the trees of European sovereignty,” he said in his speech. “You can rest assured that we will both continue to advance this once impossible couple, which is simply the result of will, courage and strength.”
What is needed is an ambitious European industrial strategy that protects production in Europe, as well as a “Made in Europe 2030” strategy that makes Europe a pioneer in future technologies and artificial intelligence. Macron stressed that joint pioneering work is required for a European Union capable of establishing itself as an independent geopolitical power.
Last upsets only at the beginning of January with arms deliveries
Since Chancellor Scholz took office a good year ago, there have been repeated upsets in Franco-German relations. Last fall, 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 consultations between the two governments, which were actually planned for October, had to be postponed because agreement on all points could not yet be reached. At the time, it was said from the Élysée Palace that the important issues of defense and energy had to be discussed further.
Most recently, the vote on arms deliveries to Ukraine did not go well. 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.
Common vision of Europe as a goal
At the joint cabinet meeting on Sunday, the topics of energy, climate protection, dealing with the US anti-inflation law and cooperation in the armaments sector were on the agenda. At the end of the day, a joint declaration should be adopted, which should show a common vision of the future of Europe.
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