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Franco-German relations
France   Germany
Map indicating location of France and Germany
     France      Germany
45th Munich Security Conference 2009: Dr. Angela Merkel (left), Federal Chancellor of Germany, in conversation with Nicolas Sarkozy (right), President of the French Republic.

The relations between France and Germany is embodied in a cooperation called Franco-German Friendship (French: Amitié franco-allemande; German: Deutsch-Französische Freundschaft). This came about after 1945, when a French-German enmity between the two countries ended.

Especially in the context of the European Union, the cooperation between the countries reaches immense coordination and collaboration. Even though France has at times been eurosceptical in outlook, especially under President de Gaulle, Franco-German agreements and cooperations have always been key to furthering the ideals of European integration.

In recent times, France and Germany are among the most enthusiastic proponents of the further integration of the EU. They are sometimes described as the "twin engine" or "core countries" pushing for moves. This agenda is facing relative opposition from those adhering to a Eurosceptic ideology.



guests arriving for the initiation of a new German Embassy building in Paris, 1968

With the threat of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Germany sought its national security in the re-integration into Western Europe, while France sought after a re-establishment as a Grande Nation. The post-war Franco-German cooperation is based on the Élysée Treaty, which was signed by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer on January 22, 1963. The treaty contained a number of agreements for joint cooperation in foreign policy, economic and military integration and exchange of student education.

The treaty was signed under difficult political situations at that time and criticized both by opposition parties in France and Germany, as well as from the United Kingdom and the United States. Opposition from the United Kingdom and the United States was answered by an added preamble which postulated a close cooperation with those (including NATO) and a targeted German reunification.

The treaty achieved a lot in initiating European integration and a stronger Franco-German co-position in transatlantic relations.

The initial concept for the Franco-German cooperation however dates back a lot further than the Elysée Treaty and is based on the overcoming the centuries of Franco-German hostilities within Europe. It was compared to a re-establishment of Charlemagne's European empire before the divide by the Treaty of Verdun in 843 AD.

The Schuman declaration of 1950 is regarded by some as the founding of Franco-German cooperation, as well as the of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) of 1951, which also included Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The cooperation was accompanied by strong personal alliance in various degrees:



Political alliances

As early as 1994 - a time of the EU12 - the German Christian Democrats Wolfgang Schäuble and Karl Lamers published a pamphlet in which they called for a Kerneuropa (= core Europe). This came in response to a slowing down of European integration by eurosceptic member states while many Europeans in "core Europe" states ask for a stronger Europe. Those countries typically include France, Germany and the Benelux, as well as Austria and Spain. The core Europe idea envisaged that it would have a 'centripetal effect', a magnetic attraction for the rest of Europe.

Yet, the emergence of a "core social Europe" is highly unlikely. Such a policy would contradict the structural reform agenda that has marked the German social-democratic government and would also be at odds with Berlin's general support for further enlargement.

Other practical problems of a possible core Europe are that France and Germany find it hard to establish agreement within various policy areas. Both countries want to strengthen European defence forces, but Germany is cutting its defence spending. Both France and Germany would like to boost the EU's foreign policy, but France no longer supports Germany's call for majority voting in foreign policy. On asylum and migration policies, the two countries have quite different approaches, and progress in other areas of justice and home affairs has been slow.

However the two countries manage a common European policy in regard to European integration and also foreign affairs, a strong example of this is the Iraq War that aligned the Franco-German alliance with Russia in opposition to American foreign policy.

Former French President Jacques Chirac has stated his desire to see Europe as a counterweight to American power against what some see as increasingly predatory American politics in the Middle East.

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty in 2003, the EU Commissioners Pascal Lamy (France) and Günter Verheugen (Germany) presented the so-called Lamy-Verheugen Plan that proposes a factual unification of France and Germany (e.g. unified armed forces).

Economic alliances

Sculpture of Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle.

The government of the two nations are making enormous efforts to merge the biggest enterprises of the Franco-German industrial alliance, it is interesting to note that once united the Franco-Germans enterprises often rise to world leadership in their respective fields.

Franco-German collaborative enterprises include;

Cultural alliances

Military alliances

  • From its inception during the 1960's the Eurocorps has contained large contingents of French and German troops at its core, while other EU nations have contributed soldiers to the multinational force. As well as the Franco-German Brigade the remainder of the corps takes much of its infantry from France and much of its armour from Germany.

External perceptions

Transatlantic relations

See also


External links


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