50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ELYSEE TREATY
France and Germany are each other’s closest and most important political, economic, and cultural partners. The Elysée Treaty, signed on January 22, 1963 by French President Charles de Gaulle and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, remains the cornerstone of French-German cooperation. This partnership is the main engine of the European Union. The two countries represent 33% of the EU’s population, 36% of the European Budget, 37% of the EU’s GDP, and 31% of its voting rights. The founding act of the French-German reconciliation and of the European construction was the Schuman Declaration of May 9, 1950, which proposed “placing their production of coal and steel under a common high authority, within the framework of an organization open to the participation of the other countries of Europe”.
What is the Elysée Treaty?
It is a Treaty about organization and principles. Its main objective is to develop habits of consultation and cooperation between the French and German authorities through:
Regular meetings of Heads of State and governments, at least twice per year (today, it is twice per month)
Regular meetings of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and contact between high-level officials in German and French ministries, embassies and consulates
Regular meetings of the Ministers of Defense and the Chiefs of Staff of the two countries as well as authorities in charge of education and youth
Creation of an inter-ministerial commission to follow and coordinate cooperation and to report to both governments. Today, the European Ministers, who are also Secretaries General for the French-German cooperation, fill this role.
A clear political commitment: “the two governments will consult each other, prior to any decision, on all important questions of foreign policy, and in the first place on questions of common interest, with a view to arriving, insofar as possible, at a similar position”.
The main areas of cooperation identified in the Treaty are:
1) Foreign Affairs, which includes European construction, East-West relations (the Treaty was signed 18 months after the construction of the Berlin Wall), International Organizations, including NATO and the UN, as well as assistance to developing countries
2) Defense, with objectives including harmonizing military doctrines, increasing exchange of personnel, and developing joint armaments programs
3) Education and Youth, with the goal of promoting language instruction, ensuring the standardization of university degrees and diplomas, and increasing cooperation between French and German research and scientific institutions.
The creation of a French-German Fund for exchanges between the two countries’ students is one of the most important achievements of the Elysée Treaty. The French-German Youth Organization has facilitated more than 8 million cross-border youth exchanges since its creation.
What are the main accomplishments of the Elysée Treaty?
The scope of cooperation has expanded: new bodies for high-level consultation have been created in the domains of defense, culture, environment, economy, and finance. Regular summits have been transformed into a Council of Ministers, including different members of the French and German governments, while other meetings are limited to the French President and the German Kanzler (Blaesheim format). Constant dialogue between French and German authorities is facilitated by numerous exchanges of officials. For example, there are German diplomats in the French Cabinet of the Prime Minister and the office of the French Foreign Minister.
New bilateral projects have been launched: the French-German Baccalaureate (ABIBAC, or common high school diploma), the French-German University, ARTE (a French-German bilingual TV network), a joint high-speed train company, and a French-German history textbook. The two countries have also organized a joint NATO summit (Strasbourg/Kehl in 2009).
The French-German EU “engine” has been strengthened: Because of the methodology established by the Elysée Treaty, France and Germany have a constant open dialogue and are always working towards reaching agreements. This enables the two countries to initiate and develop various projects to move the European construction forward, such as the creation of a French-German Brigade (which prefigured the European Army Corps and the development of the Common Security and Defense Policy), the successful launching of EADS and Airbus, the borderless Schengen area, the Euro, and the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty. Recently, the cooperation between France and Germany has been instrumental in setting up the European Stability Mechanism and Fiscal Pact.
How are France and Germany marking this celebration?
High-level and ceremonial meetings:
1) July 8th, 2012 in Reims (50th anniversary of the meeting between Général de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer),
2) September 22, 2012 in Ludwigsburg (50th anniversary of General de Gaulle’s speech to German youth);
3) January 22, 2013 in Berlin (commemoration of the signing of the Elysée Treaty with an extraordinary meeting of the French-German Council of Ministers and a joint session of both parliaments);
4) July 5th, 2013 in Paris (50th anniversary of the creation of the French-German Youth Organization).
Many events are taking place, not only in France and Germany, but around the world, to celebrate this anniversary. These events are meant to emphasize the importance of youth and civilians in maintaining peace and cooperation. Between France and Germany there are more than 4,300 school partnerships, 22 regional and 2,200 sister cities, as well as 300 French-German friendship associations which play a crucial role in promoting exchanges between French and German people. As French economist Jean Monnet once said, “Europe was not designed to promote a coalition of States but to unite the European people.”
All projects and initiatives pertaining to this anniversary celebration could benefit from being labeled a part of the “French-German Year” and can be advertised via the official bilingual website: www.france-allemagne.fr
Website in French: [http://www.france-allemagne.fr/france/annee-franco-allemande-1299/]
Website in German: Elysee50.de