• France edition
 
Franco-German relations
France and Germany mark era of reconciliation
French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel address a press conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty. Photo: Bertrand Langlois / AFP

France and Germany mark era of reconciliation

Published: 21 Jan 2013 18:09 GMT+01:00
Updated: 21 Jan 2013 18:09 GMT+01:00

Throughout a packed pomp-filled agenda of symbolic and business get-togethers which continue through Tuesday, Europe's power couple will seek to mask tensions that have strained Franco-German efforts to battle the euro crisis.

The celebrations to mark the signing on January 22, 1963 of the Elysee Treaty which formalised the former foes' friendship after the end of World War II will start with a working dinner in the snow-bedecked German capital and a meeting with youngsters.

Both governments will convene on Tuesday at the chancellery and lawmakers from the French National Assembly will hold a debate with their Bundestag counterparts in the Reichstag parliament building.

Merkel acknowledged differences with France in her weekly podcast Saturday but said she felt "a very great proximity" with Germany's neighbour, adding: "And when we have come together, then mostly a good new solution has come out of it."

"Strained relations have been overblown"

After Merkel spearheaded much of Europe's response to the three-year-long debt crisis with Hollande's conservative predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, earning them the nickname 'Merkozy', her rapport with the Socialist is noticeably cooler.

The pair have differed on the best approach for stemming the eurozone turbulence - with Hollande pushing for measures to bolster growth, while Merkel's pro-austerity mantra made her a figure of hate in struggling EU member states but has gone down well among German voters.

But Philippe Marliere, a professor in French and European Politics at University College London believes any rows between the two have been overplayed by the media.

"If relations were strained then it would have been just after Hollande came to power, when he said he was going to tear up Europe's austerity bill," Marliere told The Local. "But it's been accepted by everyone and Hollande did not get what he wanted.

"More and more you can see that Hollande is continuing what Sarkozy did. There is no major reason for these two heads of state to be at odds with other."

Even if the two have pulled off compromises, Germany, which has fared far better in the crisis than many of its partners, has not hidden concern over the health of the French economy, which the French central bank estimates fell into a mild recession at the end of 2012.

The two now appear to have agreed on Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem to replace Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the Eurogroup after weeks of horse-trading.

"Germany no longer wants to be a big power"

Europe's driving force has limited cooperation on military matters too, as the Mali conflict and Germany's non-intervention in Libya in 2011 showed, and they have traditionally different approaches to intervention shaped by their respective histories.

"In foreign policy Germany no longer wants to be a big power. How could we be, after Hitler and Auschwitz?" German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in Monday's Handelsblatt business daily.

"We are not refusing to take responsibility but we have a different relationship with military power," he said.

While French troops are fighting alongside Malian forces against Islamist fighters in the west African state, Germany has pledged two military transport planes and one million euros ($1.3 million) in humanitarian aid.

In signing the landmark treaty half a century ago, former French president Charles de Gaulle and ex-West German chancellor Konrad Adenauer opened a new chapter in cooperation that has since driven European unity.

Former EU Commission chief Jacques Delors told news weekly Der Spiegel that the symbolic value of the accord was "much more important" than its concrete implementation and that the regular meetings between their leaders and officials were of "inestimable" value.

"Both sides must speak to each other, also in difficult times," he said.

Looking ahead, Merkel also called in her podcast for German to be learnt in France and vice versa while admitting it was not an easy feat due to English being the dominant world language.

Having grown up in former East Germany she learned Russian and English, while Hollande's knowledge of German is basic.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French MPs poised to get powers to sack president
President may soon face a new threat in France. Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

French MPs poised to get powers to sack president

As if President François Hollande didn’t have enough to worry about, French lawmakers backed a measure this week that would allow them to legally sack the president in case of a “serious breach of duties”. READ  

Transparency: 'France lags far behind UK, US'
There is a certain lack of transparency in France compared to other countries, says Transparency International. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Transparency: 'France lags far behind UK, US'

A new study out this week slammed France for totally inadequate controls on lobbyists. The president of the group behind the report tells The Local how France is lagging in transparency and is playing catch up with other nations. READ  

IN PICTURES
French property face-off: The Vendée vs Limousin
The old barn or the old mill? What would you spend your money on? Photo: Leggett

French property face-off: The Vendée vs Limousin

Would you prefer a converted mill in the Vendée or a renovated barn in the Limousin region of France? Take a look at these two very different revamped properties in France that are on the market and decide what would you rather spend your money on. READ  

'Sixty French lawmakers file suspect tax returns'
French lawmakers could be in big trouble with the taxman. Photo: AFP

'Sixty French lawmakers file suspect tax returns'

In what could end up a major tax scandal in France some 60 French lawmakers are in trouble with the taxman after their financial disclosures to the public didn’t quite match up with what they’d declared to authorities, according to media reports. READ  

Tour de France 2015: Five crucial stages
The 2015 Tour de France route. Image: Le Tour.fr

Tour de France 2015: Five crucial stages

Here's a look at the key stages in the 2015 Tour de France after the route was unveiled in Paris on Wednesday. Look out for the Alpe d'Huez on the penultimate day. READ  

Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France
The famous Alpe de Huez climb, which will be climbed on the penultimate stage of the 2015 race. Photo: AFP

Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France

The route of the 2015 Tour de France was unveiled on Wednesday with one of the major surprises being the penultimate day of racing, which will see the peloton climb the mythical Alpe d'Huez in the French Alps. READ  

French Socialist party rift breaks into war of words
President François Hollande's first government feel a long time ago, with ousted ministers now in an open war of words with Socialist Party chiefs. Photo: AFP

French Socialist party rift breaks into war of words

Splits plaguing France's ruling party came to the fore on Wednesday as ousted ministers and allies of embattled President Francois Hollande engaged in a very public war of words. READ  

Paris Opera lays down rules over Muslim veils
Paris Opera has reminded staff not to allow anyone enter the building if their face is covered. Photo: Panoramas/Flickr - Miguel Medina/AFP

Paris Opera lays down rules over Muslim veils

The management at Paris Opera have issued a memo to staff not to allow entry to anyone whose face is covered. It comes after a Muslim woman was asked to leave a performance of La Traviata earlier this month after she was spotted wearing a niqab face veil. READ  

Calais: Mass migrant fight leaves dozens hurt
The migrant crisis in Calais is becoming increasingly violent and disruptive. Photo: AFP

Calais: Mass migrant fight leaves dozens hurt

Tensions were high in Calais on Tuesday night after police were forced to seal off a district in the port town after a mass brawl between migrants from Ethiopia and Eritrea, left dozens injured. READ  

Paris: Luxury hotel staff strike for better pay
A protester joins members of the CGT union gathering on October 7, 2014 in front of the Royal Monceau hotel. Photo: Joel SAget

Paris: Luxury hotel staff strike for better pay

A rebellion among hotel workers at some of Paris's luxury hotels continued this week with staff at the deluxe Royal Monceau-Raffles - where the presidential suite costs €25,000 a night - staging a walk-out to protest over their low wages. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
International
How a giant 'sex toy' earned an American artist a slap in Paris
National
'Unlike in the US the French don't put the blame on the poor'
Gallery
Cover up and don't be too Latin: French travel warnings for the US
Society
Macholand: The online uprising against sexism in France
Gallery
In pictures: The daily life of the 2,000 migrants in Calais
Culture
Erotic promo video earns the Musée d'Orsay our "Only in France" award
International
'I love the UK, but I could die getting there': Struggles of Calais migrants
National
Seven reasons why everyone should work in a bar in France
National
The cost of expat home comforts: How France compares to Europe
International
Why don't Calais migrants stay in France? The Local went to find out
National
What are the pros and cons of working as an au pair in France?
Society
Is France's generous welfare state about to get a little stingier?
Gallery
Extraordinary images of ordinary life in the poor Paris suburbs
Gallery
10 things expats love and loathe about life in France
National
So why don't many women in France breastfeed?
National
'Stop bashing La Belle France' - French PM tells UK press
International
UK warns Brits of 'high threat' from terrorism' in France
National
VIDEO: 'The Kama Sutra is not a dirty little text'
National
What Rome could teach Paris and vice versa
Gallery
What do foreign countries warn their citizens about when visiting France?
Gallery
IN IMAGES: Eiffel Tower opens new glass floor above Paris
Society
Is it really better to grow old in the UK and the US rather than France?
Gallery
It's that time if the year again: French sportsmen reveal (almost) all
Gallery
So what do the French find really weird about Anglos?
Travel
Paris museums to open seven days a week but unions are not happy
Culture
Caption contest: What happened when Jay Z met Sark O?
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Culture
10 French customs that confuse Anglos
National
IN PICTURES: A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison
International
Isis urges killing of 'spiteful, dirty' French
National
Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze
National
Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack
National
'Paris is a sexy city, its beauty is inspiring'
Culture
Depardieu: ‘I drink 14 bottles of booze a day’
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

651
jobs available