After significant tensions in recent months, on the 60th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty, Germany and France once again reiterated the importance of their friendship for the future of Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron said at a ceremony at the Sorbonne University in Paris on Sunday that Germany and France were like “two souls in one chest” for him. Together with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, he called for the EU to play a more confident role in the world.
“For a Frenchman, talking about Germany is talking about a part of himself,” Macron said in front of more than 30 ministers and nearly 200 deputies from both governments. Scholz thanked my “French brothers” for their friendship in French. In such close cooperation, he considered the differences of opinion between the two countries normal. “The Franco-German engine is a compromise machine – well oiled, but sometimes noisy and marked by hard work,” Scholz said. “It is not driven by sweet hugs and empty symbolism. But it is driven by our determined will to turn debates and differences of interest into concerted action over and over.”
Scholz and Macron called for the EU to play a more confident role in the world. “We may be facing an even bigger turning point. A turning point towards a multipolar world that we cannot face by retreating into the national snail shell,” Scholz said. No one can stand a “small, hopeless Europe” any longer caught up in national selfishness and widening gulfs between East and West, North and South. Both underlined with strong applause that the EU will continue to support Ukraine against the Russian aggressor. “Putin’s imperialism will not win,” Scholz said.
Germany and France want to expand Europe’s military capabilities. “Strengthening Europe’s defense capacities is of vital importance,” said a statement adopted by the Franco-German Council of Ministers in Paris on Sunday. It is said that both countries want to play a leading role in the joint arms supply. Referring to earlier German national specific rules, it is said that joint arms export controls will have to be implemented on the basis of a tripartite German-French-Spanish agreement.
The governments of Germany and France have committed to developing a joint main battle tank. Following the example of the agreement reached at the end of 2022 on the next step in the future air combat system (FCAS), progress in the ground combat system (MGCS) needs to be made “in the same spirit”. There is no talk of cooperation in establishing a common European anti-missile defense system.
Both governments agreed to cooperate more closely in some areas. In space travel, both want to promote Europe’s “autonomous, independent and affordable access” to space. The military satellites SYRACUSE and H2SAT are scheduled to be launched into space by the European Ariane 5 launcher in mid-2023. . The background is the competition of private US companies and problems with the use of European rockets from the Ariane program.
Renewable energies will be “substantially” expanded and nuclear fusion research will continue. “We will launch a new Franco-German research program on new battery technologies, in which our countries seek to assume a global leadership role,” the statement said. The two countries also want to extend the planned H2Med hydrogen line between Barcelona and Marseille to Germany.
Scholz and Macron are pushing for simpler rules for EU companies in the high-tech sector. They said the EU Commission is expected to consider subsidies for climate-friendly technologies compared to those in the US. “There is a question of means, but also the simplicity of the rules,” said the French President. Regulations in the EU are very complex, so the industry cannot use all the help.
Scholz was once again optimistic that an agreement would be reached with the US government so that EU companies would be no worse off than companies in Canada or Mexico in the big US subsidy package for climate-friendly technologies. After discussions with members of the US Congress, he was under the impression that disadvantages such as so-called local content regulations were not taken into account.
Cabinets and parliaments of both countries met in Paris to celebrate the anniversary. Macron demanded that Germany and France be pioneers in the re-establishment of Europe. He pointed out at a meeting in Versailles last March that the EU had already decided to reduce strategic dependencies in the fields of energy, military and food. But there is still much to be done. The German Chancellor referred to the necessary enlargement of the EU and the reduction of the right to veto decisions within the Union.
Macron and Scholz also talked about the 750 billion euro European recovery fund agreed upon to deal with the consequences of the corona pandemic. In response to France’s call for a new solidarity fund to be added, the French President added that the EU is responsible for “the decisions we take and those we do not make”. Scholz has reservations about a new fund and pointed out that only 20 percent of the solidarity fund was paid a few days ago.
On January 22, 1963, II. Eighteen years after the end of World War II, Germany and France signed the Élysée Treaty, which became the basis of friendship after centuries of rivalry. Scholz traveled to Paris with 19 ministers and about 120 members of the Bundestag.