A milestone of the German-French friendship - Germany and France celebrate the day of German-French friendshipEnlarge image Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy (archive) (© Bundesregierung)
Since 1963, bound by a treaty of friendship, France and Germany maintain a unique relationship. Both countries have transformed their past confrontations into a force for peace in Europe. They maintain exchanges of unprecedented magnitude and diversity, anchored on the everyday life of their peoples.
To end conflicts
Every year, the Franco-German friendship is celebrated on January 22 in both countries and in their representations abroad. Indeed, it is on January 22, 1963, that the Elysée Treaty was signed by the French President Charles de Gaulle and the German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.
18 years after the end of the Second World War, this Treaty marked the beginning of the reconciliation of "old age enemies" and also the end of a period which cost the life of numerous French and German soldiers and civilians during the conflict chains since the beginning of the nineteenth century: Napoleonic Wars, French-Prussian War of 1870, First and Second World Wars. Territorial occupations, war debts and reparations, the use of industries and labour of the "vanquished" had created a deep resentment in the people towards the people of the other country.
Considering the fact that political or commercial agreements are insufficient to reconcile the peoples, also considering the fact that friendship is nourished by contacts and meetings, the Elysée Treaty consists of the coming together and the mutual recognition of citizens of both countries with the ambition to anchor the Franco-German reconciliation within the society itself. Especially through culture, exchanges of young peoples and partnership in language practice.
The foundation of the French-German Youth Office, the creation of Franco-German schools, the equivalence of diplomas, the creation of a Franco-German television channel are direct results of the Treaty. Since 1963 many cities, schools, French and German regions have been twinned.
Besides the education and the culture, the Elysée Treaty also lays down the objectives of an increased cooperation between Germany and France in the domain of international relations and defense. On the political level, it establishes a program for the organization of military and intergovernmental summits. The French Head of State and the Head of the German Government meet at least twice a year, according to the program, and the foreign ministers meet at least once every three months.
The Elysée Treaty contributed to the launch of European integration and in the consolidation of the French-German cooperation in the transatlantic relation.
Close cooperationin the service ofpeople
At the occasion of the celebration of fortieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty, on January 22, 2003, when it was decided to celebrate every year on this date, new forms of coordination were established as the Council of the French-German Ministers. This organ, created by a common declaration of the President of the French Republic Jacques Chirac and the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, replaces the Franco-German summit that had been instituted by the Elysée Treaty. In the same occasion, on January 22, 2003, both countries established a common fund for financing cultural projects in other countries. This fund must provide an additional visibility and substance to the French-German cooperation abroad. Several cultural projects were financed in Nigeria thanks to the Elysée Fund.
At the 12th Council of the Franco-German Ministers, in February 2010, the French-German Agenda 2020 was adopted. It includes 80 concrete measures to deepen cooperation between France and Germany, and touch the everyday life of people such as: common matrimonial system, French-German civil service, creation of bilingual kindergartens, common medical services in border areas, occupational integration of young people...
All these show that Germany and France have taken pioneering tasks into the European policy. Even before the Euro crisis, both countries jointly agree upon finance and economic policies. The 21st century is significantly marked by the German-French friendship.