French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel sealed a wide-ranging cooperation programme for the next ten years in Paris on Thursday (4 February), launching 80 "concrete" projects to forge closer economic ties by 2020. EURACTIV France reports.
"The era of grand declarations and great treaties will begin to recede a little,"said Sarkozy, presenting 'Agenda 2020', a Franco-German blueprint for future relations between the two countries, at a joint press conference with his German counterpart yesterday.
"What is growth in the 21st century?"asked Chancellor Merkel. "We have to respond to this question together,"she said.
The announcement comes as EU leaders prepare to discuss the bloc's new '2020' strategy for economic growth at a summit on 11 February.
On foreign affairs, the pair spoke of "a common initiative for the Middle East,"preparing jointly for big international meetings like the G20 and "following up"together on Russian President Dimitry Medvedev's proposals to Europe.
"The Europe-Russia relationship is fundamental,"Merkel argued. "We have to end the Cold War once and for all."
The 10-page document of proposals for further Franco-German cooperation breaks down into six areas: the economy, energy and the climate, research, foreign policy and defence, citizenship, and institutional cooperation.
Concrete "projects"include a Franco-German storage facility to alleviate cross-border gas shortages, a joint school textbook on Europe and European integration, and the launch of a satellite to monitor greenhouse gas emissions.
The document also features plans to launch "the world's first cross-border demonstration project for electric cars […] to illustrate the limitless possibilities of electric vehicles".
Other objectives are more vague, referring only to "common implementation" of energy and climate legislation, or pre-existing initiatives such as a promise to table "common proposals for a strong food and agriculture policy".
Both nations pledged to push for EU-level action to reduce CO2 emissions, but did not specifically mention a tax on carbon. Last month, France outlined plans to unilaterally impose a carbon tax on large industrial installations from July, but the German government is known to be divided on the issue (EURACTIV 22/01/10).
Neither leader mentioned a specific timeframe or budget for implementing the new proposals.