Go to contents

France Seeks Partnership With Old Foe Germany

Posted October. 26, 2009 08:49,   


Going from arch enemies in the past to future partners, France and Germany have had unique relations in European history.

Both countries had long been at each other’s throats, fighting each other in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 and World War I and II. They belatedly sought reconciliation after becoming charter members of the European Economic Community in the 1950s.

The Economist said France is sending out a stronger love call to Germany than before.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a speech to his ambassadors in August, “Europe should make history instead of passively enduring it.”

Diplomatic sources said he intends to make France one of the two pillars of European leadership in the 21st century with Germany.

France`s Minister of European Affairs, Pierre Lellouche recently wrote in the French daily Le Monde, “More than ever, the relationship between France and Germany will form the heart of what I’d call the third phase of postwar European history.”

Lellouche has asked a team to prepare “a new Franco-German agenda for Europe” ahead of a joint Cabinet meeting before year’s end.

“In the new European configuration,” he said last month, “Franco-German relations will be central because only they can combine both the political will and capacity to push the grand project forward.”

The French want the Germans to back a new diplomatic strategy to promote clean technology and energy policy, financial cooperation and more. France will jointly mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall next month and the 50th anniversary of the Elysee treaty on Franco-German cooperation in 2013.

Sarkozy said EU power has grown with the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, but that France and Germany should be in the center. Unlike the U.K. and its fledging political and economic situation, Germany can wield stronger political power under the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was reelected in September.

Obstacles could hamper Franco-German cooperation, however. Germany is putting more emphasis on improving relations with Poland and other Eastern European countries. Berlin also seeks a tighter financial policy over an exit strategy than Paris, and disagrees with its neighbor on EU energy policy.

In addition, the two countries are competing in nuclear development and the bullet train project in Russia.

The Economist said, “If (France and Germany) just lectures their partners rather than coordinate policies, they risk aggravating tension within the euro group rather than alleviating them.”