60 years after the signing of the “Elysee Treaty”, how is the “engine” of France and Germany running?

Xinhua News Agency, Paris, January 22 (International Observer) How the Franco-German “machine” runs 60 years after the signing of the “Elysee Treaty”

Xinhua News Agency Correspondent Tang Ji

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Scholz were jointly present to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the “Elysee Treaty” in Paris on the 22nd, and a joint cabinet meeting was held between France and Germany to discuss issues such as cooperation between both countries. , European strategic autonomy, and European integration.

The “Elysee Treaty” is the document that laid the foundation for France and Germany to become the “engine” of European integration. Analysts believe that the two countries hope to take advantage of the opportunity to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the agreement to restart the “engine”, but the two sides still have differences on many issues including European defence. In order to continue to promote European integration and realize a strong Europe, France and Germany must try to bridge differences and strengthen unity.

Restart the “engine”

On the 22nd, the leaders of France and Germany led cabinet members and parliamentary representatives to participate in the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the “Elysee Treaty” at the Sorbonne University in Paris in the morning, and a joint cabinet meeting of the two was held country in the Elysee Palace in the French presidential palace in the afternoon.

The “Elysee Treaty” is a cooperation agreement between France and Germany signed by the leaders of France and Germany at the Elysee Palace in 1963. The agreement became a symbol of comprehensive reconciliation between France and Germany after the Second World War, which identified the exchange mechanism and the framework structure between the two countries, and laid the foundation for the establishment of the “French-German axis” of European integration.

On January 22, French President Macron (right) and German Chancellor Scholz arrived at the Sorbonne University in Paris, preparing to attend the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Elysee Treaty. Published by Xinhua News Agency (photo by Julian Mattia)

At the memorial ceremony on the 22nd, the leaders of France and Germany emphasized the need to strengthen the “engine” of France and Germany. Macron described France and Germany as “two souls in one chest” and said that both countries “blazed the path of reconciliation and therefore must be at the forefront of ‘reshaping’ Europe”. Scholz said that France and Germany, as an “engine of European integration”, can overcome the differences between the two sides.

According to the statement issued after the joint cabinet meeting, France and Germany will strengthen cooperation in various areas to achieve true EU sovereignty, including developing a strong European foreign and security policy, building an industrial, technological and robust digital, ensuring energy security, etc.

One of the major achievements of this meeting is that the two sides reached a consensus on a joint response to the US “De-Inflation Act”. The bill uses measures such as high subsidies to promote the production and application of electric vehicles and other green technologies in the United States. The European side believes that this will put European companies at a disadvantage. Macron told a joint news conference after the meeting that the two countries had set a “common line” and supported an “ambitious and swift” EU response to massive US subsidies.

Another important development from this meeting is that France and Germany have agreed to develop the production and transport of hydrogen energy on a large scale in the European continent, especially to help Germany, which needs to import most of the hydrogen energy . The H2Med hydrogen transport pipeline between Barcelona, ​​​​​​​​Spain, and Marseille, France, will be extended to Germany, according to the joint statement.

In addition, France and Germany issued a joint press communiqué on national defense and security that day. The communique said the two countries are cooperating with Spain to develop the “future air combat system” and hope to make important progress in the “main ground combat system” project.

differences need to be bridged

Regarding the commemoration event and the joint cabinet meeting, Hélène Miall-Delacroix, professor of history at Sorbonne University, noted that although both sides show some cooperation projects and express political views, the differences between the two countries “still exists”. This comment expresses the current problems that the French and German “machines” are facing.

In the field of energy, the German government announced in September last year that it would invest 200 billion euros in government subsidies and other ways to stabilize energy prices. France accused Germany of taking the move without prior consultation with the rest of the EU and giving German companies an unfair competitive advantage. Although both sides have made some progress in energy cooperation this time, the French media highlighted the fact that France and Germany have not yet reached an agreement on reforming the European power market. France wants to decouple gas and electricity prices in the market, while Germany opposes it.

In the field of defence, Germany plans to buy F-35 fighter jets from the United States, and France hopes to jointly develop a new generation of European fighter jets with Germany. It is worried that the purchase of the Germany’s F-35 has a serious impact on this. Germany hopes to use the anti-missile systems already available in Israel and the United States, while France insists on developing its own European system based on the French and Italian systems. Some analysts pointed out that this reflected the dispute in Europe about whether to choose the path of “strategic autonomy” or “dependence on the United States” in the field of defense.

European Union flags fly outside the European Commission building in Brussels, Belgium, on January 6. Photo by Xinhua News Agency reporter Zheng Huansong

Jakob Roth and Kenny Kramer, researchers at the German Institute for Foreign Relations, pointed out in a recent article that a united European Union has been established for 60 years on the basis of the “Elysee Treaty”, but now, the centrifugal force within the European Union is getting stronger and stronger. Growing bigger, Germany and France, as the “engine” of Europe, are now “lacking motivation”.

The chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Christoph Heusgen, believes that both sides are responsible for the current poor relations between Germany and France. Germany does not always take France’s point of view into account when considering issues, and France does not always follow the “European way”. act. But if Germany and France are at odds with each other, Europe will stagnate.

Despite the differences, judging from the statements of France and Germany, both countries still have a consensus on basic issues related to the future of Europe. Macron and Scholz previously noted in a jointly signed article published by the media of both countries that France and Germany 60 years after signing the “Elysee Treaty”, still have the same ideal – to build an EU durable, strong and sovereign. . Even with their differences, both countries are more determined to develop a common response and want to join the rest of the EU in tackling challenges.

Analysts noted that in order to realize the ideal of building a strong EU, France and Germany, as the “engine”, must try to bridge differences and maintain unity. Sixty years after the signing of the “accommodating” Franco-German Elysee Agreement, Paris and Berlin must rediscover their spirit and relaunch their integration, said Miall-Delacroix. (Participating reporter: Li Chao)

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