No major announcement marked the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty, perhaps unsurprisingly, but the adoption of two new texts shows the French and Germans are still making steps towards further cooperation. EURACTIV France reports.
The first of these texts, named the Berlin Declaration, signed off by the two heads of government François Hollande and Angela Merkel, harks back to the 1963 bilateral treaty, outlining the same main areas of cooperation: youth, culture, the economy, and defence.
The second, adopted after a joint meeting of French and German ministers, lays out the main projects on the agenda over 18 pages, including:
- The Franco-German Youth Office, which distributes mobility grants, should enlarge its scope in order to provide further support to young people after their university studies. “The Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ) and the Franco-German Secretary for young professionals training (SFA) will develop their activities in the area of orientation, training and professional mobility.”
- Launch of a Franco-German certificate for youth organisers.
- Creation of a Franco-German secondary school in Latresne near Bordeaux. The start of the school year in 2013 will be marked by the opening of a Franco-German section and professional baccalaureate in aeronautic sciences. “Incidentally, many local enterprises have already shown their interest in welcoming German students and creating a network of dedicated enterprises”, according to the Aquitaine region.
- Creation of a working group gathering together trade unions and employers in order to reflect on competitiveness and social protection.
- Putting in place a Franco-German employment agency in Kehl.
- Cooperation between the French Caisse des Dépôts and the German Reconstruction Credit Institute (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau) to finance work in energy efficiency.
- Dialogue between the two governments to improve the access of French and German companies to primary materials.
In May, the French and German executives will put new proposals on the economic and monetary union on the table with one eye on the European Council in June.
In parallel, parliamentarians from both sides foresee tighter cooperation, in adopting for example common positions on future enlargement of the EU and in creating working groups other than those that exist already (youth, the economic crisis, cultural diversity).
As of 14 February, a delegation from France’s socialist government led by Harlem Désir has forecasted a trip to Berlin to meet Sigmar Gabriel, the head of the social-democrats, and Peer Steinbrück, a German socialist candidate for the Chancellorship. The French Socialist Party (PS) have decided to launch an agreement from June dedicated to Europe, led by the MP from Seine-Maritime and former MEP Estelle Grelier.