Four months before the European elections, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron have signed a new treaty to strengthen the Franco-German relationship and send a message of support to Europe, at a time when it is weakened by the rise of nationalism.
The treaty, signed in Aachen, Germany, aims to “complete“ the so-called “Elysee” treaty signed in 1963 between General de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer, which brought about Franco-German reconciliation after the war. It provides for a convergence of the economic, foreign and defence policies of the two countries, cooperation on cross-border regions, and a “joint parliamentary assembly” composed of one hundred French and German deputies.
“This is an important moment to show that the Franco-German duo is a base that can be revived (…) at the service of strengthening the European project“, the office of the French Presidency said in a statement.
“Germany and France intend to continue to move things together in Europe,” said Angela Merkel on Saturday.
In the treaty, France and Germany adopt a “mutual defense clause” in the event of aggression, along the lines of that provided for within NATO. They can deploy resources together in the event of a terrorist attack or cooperate on major military programs, like their projects on tanks or fighter jets.
The treaty was signed by two weakened leaders: Angela Merkel is preparing to leave her post in autumn 2021, and Emmanuel Macron in the midst of ongoing protests by the so-called “yellow vests”, a number of whom showed up at the signing on Tuesday to voice their dissent. Both leaders are beset by the rise of the far-right in their respective countries.
In France, Marine Le Pen said the agreement will lead to “collapse the power of our country,” and accused Emmanuel Macron of wanting to share France’s seat at the UN Security Council with Germany, despite Paris advocating for Germany to have its own seat at the table.
In Germany, the leader of the extreme right, Alexander Gauland, accused Paris and Berlin of wanting to create a “super-EU“
“We populists ask that everyone take care of their own country first. And we do not want Macron to do it with the money German money, ” he said.