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The Franco-German relationship, an imperative necessity

[This editorial is also available in Ukrainian.]

In Paris yesterday Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron, together with their parliaments, celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of the Elysée Treaty. An unparalleled between two countries, it lays out a special relationship, having been first made possible on behalf of France by Robert Schuman on 9 May 1950.

Franco-German friendship is not a fiction or a slogan, it is a slow and patient political construction, involving cooperation and daily political, diplomatic, administrative, and technical dialogue.

It is, in fact, an imperative requirement for the European Union that France and Germany succeed in getting along, even though their traditions and responses are often opposite. Without the agreement of one or the other, there can be no European decision.

Of course, agreement between the two countries is no longer enough in a diverse and constantly expanding Europe of 27. But the two partners are also guarantors of the Union that they and others founded. It is not an "à la carte" menu where one can ignore one of the fundamental pillars of the Community structure, for example the defence of democratic values and the rule of law, while benefiting from its generous credits and effective protection.

It is a daily commitment to build a future in a global context experiencing major upheaval.

From this point of view, domestic politics sometimes confuses the issue. Germany's ruling coalition has seemed to focus on repairing a number of unfortunate energy, economic and diplomatic decisions. Emmanuel Macron and France have taken a lead in proposing a vision of a strong, more autonomous, sovereign Europe, and Olaf Scholz has publicly paid tribute to him for this.

History, traditions, and facts naturally push Germany and France to make different national choices, out of convenience, inclination or instinct. But as soon as our leaders look to the future, they confirm that in the absence of this great pole of stability represented at the heart of the continent by a Franco-German alliance of 150 million inhabitants and more than €6,000 billion in annual wealth, there would be neither independence nor power for Europe.

This was Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz’s goal on 22 January 2023 as they firmly turned to the future. They recalled their countries' resolute commitment to a Europe that is finally more responsible in terms of security and more proactive in supporting its economy and helping it to make a success of digital and environmental transitions.

At a time when the European Union is being openly attacked by a revisionist, expansionist Putin, who is challenging it to retaliate, the two European leaders, with renewed determination, as they rekindled their agreement with powerful language, but without concealing nuances and differences, are offering Europeans more than prospects, they are offering them real opportunities for the future.