Germany and France unite to fight ‘fake news’

As France and Germany signed a new friendship treaty Tuesday, they sought to debunk what they called fake news and conspiracy claims levelled by far-right nationalist groups.

Germany and France unite to fight 'fake news'
Macron and Merkel signing the "friendship treaty" Tuesday in Aachen. Photo: DPA

French President Emmanuel Macron in his speech charged that “those who… spread lies are hurting the same people they are pretending to defend by seeking to repeat our history”.

In a rare move, the Elysee Palace also issued a statement with four capital-letter “NONs” to shoot down the most inflammatory claims that made the rounds on social media.

Border region

“NO, Alsace and Lorraine will not be placed under the tutelage of Germany,” said the Elysee statement.

“NO, Alsatians will not have to learn and speak German.”

Far-right MEP Bernard Monot, among others, had charged that the eastern French regions, which have changed hands several times between French and German rule, were being “handed over to a foreign power”.

And the leader of France's National Rally, Marine Le Pen, accused Macron of “an act that borders on treason” by signing the follow-up pact to the 1963 Elysee Treaty.

The French presidency said that “by trying to rekindle the ashes of a rivalry between France and Germany, those who spread the false news betray all the work of reconciliation that allows us to live in peace”.

UN Security Council 

Le Pen has also predicted that Paris will eventually give up its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, and even share control over its nuclear arsenal.

“NO, France will not share its seat in the UN Security Council with Germany…nor with anyone else,” said Macron's office.

SEE ALSO: Timeline: Decades of Franco-German friendship

In the text of the 16-page accord, Paris backs Berlin's long-running and long-shot campaign for a permanent Security Council seat — a move which also buries proposals for Paris to give up its seat in favour of a combined EU representation.

Both former enemy nations also pledge to stand shoulder to shoulder in case of a military attack against either of them, reaffirming a commitment already written into EU and NATO treaties, and to create a new joint Defence and Security Council.

Picking up the bill

Among German populists, a long-running fear is that taxpayers in the EU's top economy will have to foot the bill for the expensive visions of neighbouring members of the bloc.

A co-chief of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, Alexander Gauland, charged that Paris and Berlin were now seeking to create a “super EU” within the European Union.

“We as populists insist that one first takes care of one's own country,” said Gauland, whose opposition group started life five years ago as a eurosceptic fringe party.

“We don't want Macron to renovate his country with German money.”

Neither of the European leaders addressed the point directly, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that “populism and nationalism are on the rise”, multilateralism and international cooperation are under attack, and  “more decisive, clearer and future-oriented answers are needed”.

Member comments

  1. Good. At least Germany and France are actually trying to stem the tide of nationalist brainwashing in mainstream news. Unlike the UK, who are more or less advocating it, the British tabloids are a disgrace!

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Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

French president Emmanuel Macron will make a live TV broadcast to the nation about the war in Ukraine.

Macron to make live TV broadcast to France

Macron will be on TV on Wednesday at 8pm, the Elysée confirmed earlier on Wednesday.

Macron also tweeted the announcement, saying that his speech will be on the subject of the war in Ukraine.

His office added that the president’s speech “will not touch on other matters” – Macron has only until Friday to confirm whether or not he is running for re-election.

It is widely considered to be extremely unlikely that he would not stand in the April elections, but all candidates have until Friday, March 4th, to make their declaration.

Macron’s team had previously announced a rally in Marseille on Saturday, March 5th, which was expected to be the first official campaign event, but on Tuesday this was cancelled because of the ongoing international crisis.

Macron was at the forefront of international efforts to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, and since Russia invaded Ukraine he has remained in close contact with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, and has also spoken – at the request of Zelensky – to Russian premier Vladimir Putin.

The Local will be following Macron’s speech live from 8pm HERE.