• 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

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
Armed Isis Islamist grew up in small French village
Demonstrators protesting against Isis. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP

Armed Isis Islamist grew up in small French village

One of three Kalashnikov-wielding Islamists seen burning their French passports in an Islamic State propaganda video this week grew up in a small village in southern France, the mayor said Saturday. READ  

Tactical Argentina stun France in Paris
Photo: Frank Fife/AFP

Tactical Argentina stun France in Paris

Argentina produced a tactical masterclass to beat France 18-13 at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday. READ  

French PM Valls arrives in Chad on regional trip
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls with President Francois Hollande. Photo: Philippe Wojazer/AFP

French PM Valls arrives in Chad on regional trip

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls arrived in Chad late Friday at the start of a two-day regional visit, in a show of support for a French-led anti-jihadist force. READ  

Sanofi still has a 'driver' despite shakeup
Photo: Jacques Demarthon/AFP

Sanofi still has a 'driver' despite shakeup

The temporary head of French drugmaker Sanofi insisted the firm still had a bright future Thursday, declaring there was still "a driver in the seat" despite a sudden change in leadership. READ  

EU could give France until 2015 on budget
France's Finance Minister Michel Sapin. File photo: Dominique Faget/AFP

EU could give France until 2015 on budget

The EU could delay a decision on France's budget overshoot until early 2015 instead of making a ruling next week as expected, sources said on Friday. READ  

France's 'first ladies': A look at the other halves
How does the actress Julie Gayet match up against Yvonne de Gaulle, Claude Pompidou, Anne-Aymone Giscard d'Estaing, Danielle Mitterrand, Bernadette Chirac, Cecilia Sarkozy and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy? Pho

France's 'first ladies': A look at the other halves

With François Hollande’s romance with Julie Gayet apparently blossoming, the actress looks set to become France's latest unofficial 'first lady'. Writer Amaryllis Barton takes a look back at her predecessors to see how they matched up. READ  

'Ten reasons the French can be proud of France'
Ten reasons why the French can be proud of France, (according to the government).Photo: AFP

'Ten reasons the French can be proud of France'

France has come in for a harsh criticism recently whether it's from British CEOs or budget chiefs in Brussels and Berlin. But the government has taken it upon itself to hit back by publishing ten reasons to be proud of the country. How many do you agree with though? READ  

Scandal forces another Hollande minister to quit
Kader Arif was a junior minister for veteran affairs. Photo: Alain Jocard/Pool/AFP

Scandal forces another Hollande minister to quit

A junior French minister resigned on Friday as a scandal implicating him in the awarding of lucrative public contracts to members of his family hit President François Hollande's Socialist government with another bruising. READ  

France gets a new map, but what's the point?
France is to get a new map, but what is the point of it all? Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

France gets a new map, but what's the point?

After a long and passionate debate about reducing the number of France's regions, the National Assembly finally voted for a new map with 13 regions this week. But after all the fuss, what's the point of the reform and is there any point to France's regions? READ  

North Korean student feared kidnapped in Paris
Paris prosecutors are investigating the disappearance of a North Korean student linked to political rivals of leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: AFP

North Korean student feared kidnapped in Paris

Paris prosecutors are investigating the disappearance of a North Korean student linked to political rivals of dictator Kim Jong-un, a judicial source said Friday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Win your Christmas list: €250 at Marks & Spencer
National
Would background music make the RER in Paris feel safer?
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles from British Airways
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Winter is coming to the French Alps
National
Trierweiler to break her silence... in the UK
Gallery
Don't confuse France with Paris: Here's ten reasons why
Sponsored Article
Live like a local - anywhere in the world
National
From the homeless to migrants: A portrait of modern France in ten stats
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Culture
Are you brainy enough to be Miss France? Take the quiz
Gallery
France's most notorious celebrities. How many do you know?
Society
City of Love? Seven Paris myths debunked
Education
Why is France worst in the EU at English?
National
C'est pas possible! Paris is 'world's cheapest city for young people'
National
Looking to save space? France allows toilets in kitchens for first time
National
Find out how women in France are getting stung for a hidden tax
Culture
Which one is your favourite? The top 10 heartiest French winter dishes
Face Of The Week
Nabilla - 'France's Kim Kardashian' held for attempted murder
National
So who's scaring everyone by flying drones over France’s nuclear plants?
Education
Whoever thinks French was a dying language should read this
Politics
OPINION: 'One day France will be grateful to François Hollande'
Gallery
IN IMAGES: A history of France's most controversial architecture
National
How to make an 8-square-metre Paris apartment perfectly liveable
Gallery
VIDEO: France's raunchiest TV ads, including that infamous Perrier one
National
Five reasons why you should work a ski season in France and five not to
National
10 art exhibitions not to miss this autumn in Paris
Culture
What's on in France: 11 things to do this November
National
How French have you become? Take our quiz to find out
National
10 things to never say to a French person
National
Top 10: When French translations go wrong
National
Parisian bars that serve drinkers free meals
National
France falls to Germans in nude swim tourney
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Nowhere combines sex and art quite like France
National
Why you should never turn down an invitation to a French wedding
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
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?
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

498
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists
Click here for the full job description