Timeline: Decades of Franco-German friendship

Enemies during both world wars, France and Germany have since forged a close friendship, acting together as the powerhouse driving the European Union. We looked at the highlights of their relations since the end of World War II.

Timeline: Decades of Franco-German friendship
French President Charles de Gaulle and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer sign the German-French friendship treaty at the Elysee Palace in Paris in January 1963. Photo: DPA

Beginnings of EU 

– May 9th, 1950: French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposes an organization pooling France and West Germany's coal and steel production. It leads, a year later, to the creation of the six-nation European Coal and Steel Community, a precursor to the European Economic Community and European Union.

– January 22nd, 1963: French President Charles de Gaulle and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer sign the Elysee Treaty on Franco-German cooperation in Paris.The friendship treaty between the former foes goes on to become a building block of European unity.

Joint projects 

– March 13-14th, 1969: France and West Germany decide to jointly produce the Airbus aircraft.

– January 20th, 1983: In a strong signal of French confidence in West Germany, President Francois Mitterrand backs in its parliament the decision to locate American missiles on German soil in the face of Soviet missiles during the Cold War. 

Hand in hand

– September 22nd, 1984: Mitterrand and Chancellor Helmut Kohl stand hand in hand in Verdun, France, at commemorations of the death of French and German soldiers during the two world wars.

– October 2nd, 1989: Creation of a Franco-West German military brigade.

President Francois Mitterrand and Chancellor Helmut Kohl hold hands at a war commemoration in 1984. Photo: DPA

German reunification 

– December 20-22nd, 1989: After the fall on November 9th of the Berlin Wall separating West and East Germany, Mitterrand – wary about reunification – visits East Germany.

– September 17-18th, 1990: Just before reunification on October 3rd, Mitterrand and Kohl sign an agreement to increase cooperation.

– October 2nd, 1990: Creation of the Franco-German television channel Arte.

Economic and Monetary Union 

 – February 7th, 1992: Signature of the Maastricht Treaty, the basis of European Economic and Monetary Union, largely powered by Mitterrand and Kohl.

A copy of the 'Maastricht Treaty' is displayed during the conference 'Twenty Years Treaty on European Union: Reflections from Maastricht', in Maastricht, The Netherlands in October 2013. Photo: DPA

– May 22nd, 1992: Creation of Eurocorps, an intergovernmental standing army corps which integrates the Franco-German brigade.

– July 14th, 1994: On France's national day, 200 German soldiers serving in Eurocorps parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

A German and a French flag hang behind the figure of Charlemagne at the town hall in Aachen. Photo: DPA

Commemorating world wars 

 – June 6th, 2004: Chancellor Gerhard Schröder becomes the first German leader to take part in the commemoration of the Allied landing in Normandy on the 60th anniversary of World War II's D-Day.

– November 11th, 2009: Angela Merkel becomes the first German head of government to commemorate in Paris the anniversary of the World War I armistice.

 Solving Europe's problems 

– June 6, 2014: On the sidelines of D-Day anniversary ceremonies, French leader Francois Hollande and Merkel foster a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko, in efforts to resolve a damaging crisis in their relations.

– July 13, 2015: Merkel and Hollande, at odds over how to deal with the Greek debt crisis, secure an accord with its prime minister Alexis Tsipras to keep Greece in the eurozone in exchange for tough austerity measures. 

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande at the start of eurozone leaders' summit on the Greek crisis at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 12th July 2015.

New treaty 

– January 22nd, 2019: The signature by Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron of a new treaty further strengthening Franco-German cooperation. It comes two months after joint commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and 55 years after their first friendship treaty.

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron embrace on November 10th 2018, as they attend joint commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Photo: DPA

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