• Germany edition
 
Franco-German ties feted amid euro crisis
Photo: DPA

Franco-German ties feted amid euro crisis

Published: 22 Jan 2013 07:09 GMT+01:00
Updated: 22 Jan 2013 16:34 GMT+01:00

French President Francois Hollande has travelled to the snowy German capital to join Chancellor Angela Merkel to fete the Elysee Treaty, inked in 1963, which heralded a new era of friendship between the former foes.

Eighteen years after the end of World War II, then French president Charles de Gaulle and West German chancellor Konrad Adenauer formalised on January 22 the cooperation that has since been a building block of European unity.

But the half-century milestone comes amid strains in the Franco-German partnership and as the European Union faces testing times over the eurozone debt crisis and euroscepticism in Britain.

France and Germany's foreign ministers jointly insisted in a German newspaper that Europe was "not the problem, but it must be the solution" and urged a modernisation of the "European reflex" of former generations.

"We want to counter the danger of an erosion within the EU," Laurent Fabius and Guido Westerwelle wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.

"The drift towards populism and nationalism has grown alarmingly in the course of the European debt crisis. We are making a stand with a German-French commitment to Europe," they added.

Kicking off events, Merkel joined Hollande at the French embassy for a meeting with figures from both countries' cultural scenes. Their ministers agreed a programme of culture and media projects.

"I am a child of this friendship (between France and Germany)... my first car was a 2CV and I studied in Paris," German film director Wim Wenders said on arrival, referring to an old Citroen model.

"There's a certain indifference (today) but that doesn't surprise me after 50 years of marriage," he added.

"The Artist" director Michel Hazanavicius was among French representatives.

With the French, German and European flags fluttering, Hollande was received with military honours by German President Joachim Gauck at the Bellevue palace where he also briefly shook hands with warmly wrapped-up onlookers.

He then went on to the chancellery to be greeted by Merkel before a group photo with ministers.

Later a joint session of both countries' cabinets was held, while nearly 400 French lawmakers were to join their Bundestag counterparts for a debate in the Reichstag.

"We have differences and different political majorities, but without Franco-German friendship, (we) would lack an engine for European construction," French National Assembly President Claude Bartolone told reporters.

Shortly after Hollande arrived in Berlin, he and Merkel sought to present a unified front during a debate with about 200 German and French youth, despite tensions from the euro crisis which has propelled Berlin into Europe's driving seat.

The two leaders have differed on the best approach for stemming the eurozone turbulence -- with Hollande pushing for fresh spending to bolster growth versus Merkel's pro-austerity mantra.

Even if the two have pulled off compromises, Germany, which has fared far better in the crisis than many of its partners, has expressed hopes the French economy will return to robust growth.

Hollande acknowledged during the debate that his country had a "problem of competitiveness", saying Germany -- Europe's effective paymaster -- had "made efforts" while France "has lost time".

On military matters too, Paris and Berlin have limited cooperation, as the current crisis in Mali and Germany's non-intervention in Libya in 2011, have shown, but Merkel played down their different approaches.

"Step by step we will always weigh up, can we do that, or can't we...," she said, insisting that Germany would not leave its partner, whose troops are fighting Islamist militants in the West African state, high and dry.

Germany has pledged two military transport planes and humanitarian aid for Mali.

AFP/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

17:20 January 22, 2013 by Englishted
Chalk and Cheese sooner or later it will break down ,but I hope it will not return to fighting just to rivalry far better .
22:11 January 22, 2013 by www.emungus.net
This note of mine is nothing but a greeting : happy birthday to the two European heavyweights.
Today's headlines
Retail sales show biggest drop for seven years
Photo: DPA

Retail sales show biggest drop for seven years

German shoppers cut back on their spending in September at the fastest rate for seven years, official data showed on Friday. READ  

Fall of the Wall - 25 years
'I'm leaving for the West, who's coming?'
Engels at the spot where he drove through the Wall and in hospital in 1963 after being shot. Photo: Nick Allen/Fotoarchiv Alex Waidmann Berlin

'I'm leaving for the West, who's coming?'

There are many of tales of ingenious and well-thought out escape plans from people desperate to flee from East to West Berlin. Wolfgang Engels’ wasn’t one of them. It was, however, one of the most daring. READ  

Police probe pupils who made Nazi salutes
Pupils used WhatsApp to share messages which are police are investigating. Photo: DPA

Police probe pupils who made Nazi salutes

Police are investigating pupils at a school in Saxony-Anhalt for incitement of the people and use of banned symbols after teenagers allegedly made the Hitler salute. READ  

Time running out for refugees in Berlin school
Representatives of the refugees at a press conference last week. Photo: DPA

Time running out for refugees in Berlin school

An ultimatum for the remaining refugees and their supporters to leave an occupied school in Berlin, which has been the scene of protests for months, will expire at midnight on Friday. READ  

EU promises support for Ukraine gas deal
Photo: DPA

EU promises support for Ukraine gas deal

The European Union will "fully play its role" to implement the gas deal signed by Ukraine and Russia on Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande said in a joint statement. READ  

Body scanners to come to more airports
Photo: DPA

Body scanners to come to more airports

Passengers at German airports can expect a controversial full body scan in the future. READ  

German of the Week
This professor is Putin's favourite German
A photo of Haag by Russian news agency TASS.

This professor is Putin's favourite German

If you read reports from Russian media, you might be forgiven for thinking that Professor Professor Lorenz Haag from Chemnitz (so well-qualified he gets the title twice) is a titan of academia. READ  

Jihadist caught on German shopping trip
The man came from Syria for the shopping trip which included a visit to Aldi. Photo: DPA

Jihadist caught on German shopping trip

An alleged jihadist will go on trial in Stuttgart next week after being caught on a shopping trip to pick up goods for Islamic fighters in Syria. READ  

Kidnapped German 'rescued' in Nigeria
Photo: DPA

Kidnapped German 'rescued' in Nigeria

UPDATE: A German national who was kidnapped by gunmen last Friday in southwest Nigeria has been released, police said on Thursday. READ  

Fall of the Wall - 25 years
See how Berlin has changed since Wall fell
The East Side gallery in Friedrichshain. Photo: DPA

See how Berlin has changed since Wall fell

Germany is gearing up to celebrate 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th 1989. The city has changed more than any other in Europe in that time, as these 11 photos of scenes from then and now show. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles from British Airways
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Want to study in Germany? These are the subjects to choose
Photo: DPA
Society
Germans are wide of the mark on immigration
Photo: DPA
Society
Halloween: Where are the spookiest spots?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Who wants to work in Germany? A third of the world
Photo: DPA
Society
'We can't allow a proxy war on German streets'
Sponsored Article
International School on the Rhine: a legacy
Photo: DPA
Society
QUIZ: How well do you know Germany?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
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 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 France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

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

3,531
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd