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Germany/France: Countries Sign Friendship Treaty on Cooperation and Integration

(Feb. 1, 2019) On January 22, 2019, Germany and France signed the “Aachen Treaty,” a bilateral friendship treaty on cooperation and integration. The treaty comes fifty-six years after the signing of the Élysée Treaty, which focused on reconciliation after the end of the Second World War. The Aachen Treaty complements the Élysée Treaty, renews the cooperation between the two countries, and adds additional measures to promote closer cooperation in several areas, in particular with regard to European integration and defense policy. (Treaty Between the Federal Republic of Germany and the French Republic on German-French Cooperation and Integration (Aachen Treaty), Jan. 22, 2019, Federal Government website (in German).)

Contents of the Treaty

The Aachen treaty is divided into seven chapters that deal with European affairs; peace, security, and development; culture, education, research, and mobility; regional and cross-border cooperation; sustainable development, climate, environment, and economic affairs; organization; and final provisions.

European Affairs

 The treaty provides that the two countries will deepen their cooperation with regard to European policies, in particular in the area of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and the European Economic and Monetary Union. (Id. art. 1.) Furthermore, they agree to consult one another regularly at every level before important European events and to reach and present joint positions. (Id. art. 2.)

Peace, Security, and Development

The countries also agree to strengthen their cooperation in foreign policy matters, defense policy, and security, and to work toward strengthening Europe’s ability to act on its own. (Id. art. 3.) They restate their mutual defense obligations under NATO and pledge to establish a German-French Defense and Security Council to coordinate their mutual obligations. (Id. art. 4.) In addition, they will cooperate closely within the framework of the United Nations (UN). The admission of Germany as a new permanent member of the UN Security Council will be a priority of German-French diplomacy. (Id. art. 8.)

Culture, Education, Research, and Mobility

Germany and France will expand exchange programs between the two countries, create specific digital cultural offerings for young people, further language programs and dual studies at schools and universities, connect education and research systems, and establish a common citizen fund that will promote and support citizens’ initiatives and city partnerships. (Id. arts. 9–12.)

Regional and Cross-Border Cooperation

The two countries also agree to remove barriers for cross-border cooperation between people and companies. To achieve that goal, they will increase the competences of regional authorities in border regions as far as possible under constitutional law and EU law. (Id. art. 13.) Furthermore, both states will establish a Committee for Cross-Border Cooperation that will be made up of national, regional, and local authorities, as well as parliaments, cross-border units like Eurodistricts, and, if necessary, the affected Euroregions. (Id. art. 14.) Other provisions concern increased support for bilingualism, mobility between the countries—for example, rail and road connections—and decentralized cooperation between regional authorities that are not in the border region. (Id. arts. 15–17.)

Sustainable Development, Climate, Environment, and Economic Affairs

Finally, they agree to work towards implementing the Paris Climate Accord and the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and to promote sustainable energy systems. (Id. arts. 18, 19.) Furthermore, they will deepen the integration of their economies with the goal of establishing a German-French economic area with common rules. Both countries will establish an independent German-French “Council of Economic Experts,” which will give economic policy advice to the governments. (Id. art. 20.) Other provisions concern cooperation in research and digital transformation, including artificial intelligence and highly innovative inventions, and support for developing international ethical guidelines for new technologies. (Id. art. 21.)

Organization

The two governments will meet at least once a year, and the German-French Council of Ministers will publish a multiyear project planning report for the cooperation of the countries. (Id. art. 23.) Every quarter, one rotating member of the government will participate in a cabinet meeting of the other country. (Id. art. 24.) The various councils, structures, and instruments will be evaluated on a regular basis and, if necessary, adjusted to the agreed-upon objectives. The first evaluation will take place six months after the Aachen Treaty enters into force. (Id. art. 25.)