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The Welcome Return of Franco-German Fellowship

By making his work part of a close relationship with Germany the new French President has broken with years of routine. He is undertaking a policy that is in line with the interests of his country, but he is also making Europe's revival possible. The German Chancellor was not wrong as she immediately showed she was prepared to work jointly with her most important neighbour.

For both Germany and France there can only be a positive future if there is true cooperation. This does not mean agreeing on everything but it does mean discussing everything. Coming to agreements or compromises, or even not agreeing but understanding the other's constraints - which already means avoiding blunders.

This is what we call fellowship.

The joint conference that Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron held together after the European Council on 22nd and 23rd June is revelatory in this respect.

This approach, which is already policy in itself, breaks with years of indifference and laisser-aller which was damaging to everyone.

Whilst he has just left us, Helmut Kohl, that very grand European, proved this to us. Without his friendship with F. Mitterrand, would German reunification have been so peaceful and ultimately, so successful? And in what state would the European Union have found itself?

By acting in this manner today both leaders are doing a great service to the citizens of Europe. By setting the example they are defining a newer, more acceptable path to integration by the 27.

The Franco-German Council of Ministers on 13th July will probably be the occasion for new announcements regarding the desire to move forward together on issues that are of interest to the Union as a whole. Work is already underway on one side and the other and also jointly for the better governance of the euro area. Already the Union is progressing in terms of security and defence issues. The common institutions have jump started an engine that had come to a halt due to divergence between the Member States.

There is no need for discussion about a two-tiered Europe, hard cores and other paper constructions. The example just has to be set by moving towards closer, mutually respectful cooperation, and also including those who do not want to move forward or those who cannot do so. We know what the challenges are: security, defence, economy, immigration. The few steps made by just some of our European partners to rise to these challenges and overcome them will be beneficial to us all.

And this is France and Germany's duty - the duty on the part of the continent's two most important nations - to open the way and forge ahead.