Germany and France sign the Treaty of Aachen

Two Embassies, one Team: The French and German Ambassador with their colleagues

Today a new treaty on Franco-German Cooperation and Integration, will be signed by Federal Chancellor Merkel and President Macron in the city of Aachen in Germany.

Proof of this friendship between France and Germany, can be seen in Kuwait: It is the only place in the world, where the French and German Embassy share the same floor of a high-rise building. The offices are side by side and common office spaces, like the reception, meeting rooms and the kitchen are shared. The synergy effects are huge, the ambassadors can communicate in person on a daily basis, administration is less for each side and costs are shared.

The close cooperation between Germany and France started with the Élysée Treaty, a treaty of friendship between France and Germany, signed by President Charles de Gaulle and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer on 22 January 1963 at the Élysée Palace in Paris. On this occasion, Germany and France drew the lessons from their past by concluding the historic Elysée Treaty, setting out a major new course for their relationship. What for centuries had been regarded as a traditional enmity was able to develop into Franco-German friendship. The confrontation, that time and again, led to wars which wreaked havoc on Europe, became the engine of European integration.  The new ‘Treaty of Aachen’, that will be signed today, builds on, but does not replace, the Elysée Treaty of 1963.

Preparing for the future together

Germany and France firmly believe that closer cooperation does not come at the cost of national sovereignty, but instead makes countries stronger together. They will thus not only remain committed to the success story that is European integration, but also lay the foundations for the next generation to continue on this path. The Treaty will significantly intensify cooperation with France on foreign and security policy, topics concerning the future, culture, education and cross-border collaboration. Germany and France aim to work even more closely together than before in the EU and United Nations. The priority of the Treaty of Aachen is to safeguard the future together. As a venue for dialogue and an interface between politics, business, research and civil society, a Franco-German forum for the future will develop joint answers to new challenges or needs for regulations.

Focus on border regions

Integration between border regions will be a priority in the future. The main aim is to reduce the disadvantages arising from a peripheral location by carrying out cross-border projects. Decision-makers in the border regions are to be given scope to go beyond the existing possible types of cross-border cooperation. The focus will be on tangibly improving people’s daily lives in border regions, such as the work of companies and administrations, day care for children, healthcare, schools and vocational training, cross-border job placement services and transnational infrastructure projects. The goal is to identify solutions for daily life in border regions that could point the way forward for European integration.

German Ambassador Karlfried Bergner said: “We are living proof that neighboring countries, that used to be at war with each other, can overcome the past and be really close friends. By setting this example, we are hoping to inspire more countries at war or in conflicts with neighboring countries to choose collaboration and consultation over rivalry and conflict. This is of political importance in many hotspots around the globe.”

French Ambassador Marie Masdupuy said: “The human factor in relations between countries is of paramount importance. In Europe, we see it with all our neighbors, but without the closest relation we succeeded to establish between France and Germany, it would not make sense. Here in Kuwait, the human factor in relations between neighbors is also very well understood.”

But how can countries become friends? You have to enable and encourage the people of both countries to come together. The ‘Franco-German Youth Office’, for example, has enabled 9 million young people from France and Germany to participate in 320,000 exchange programs since 1963.

Today there is also a huge civil-society network between Germany and France, for example, there are 2,220 towns and cities in Germany who have a French partner city. People from the different cities visit each other throughout the year. Be it choirs, sports club or the mayor, they meet up with their counterparts and discover the other side has very much in common with them. This is where personal Franco-German friendships are born.