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Relancer l'Europe : Retrouver l'esprit de Rome - version anglaise

22 février 2017 : Relancer l'Europe : Retrouver l'esprit de Rome - version anglaise ( rapport d'information )


In order to implement the ambitious roadmap it has laid out, the monitoring group proposes building on the Franco-German engine which, by autumn 2017, will have five years of executive stability behind it. The approach must be both ambitious and pragmatic. Enhanced cooperation between Member States who want to move forward should be a driving force for the whole Union. Finally, Europe must again become the shared project of the European people.


The Franco-German partnership has always been a driving force in the building of Europe. Today, it lacks dynamism. The monitoring group is calling for a Franco-German initiative for the renewal of the European Union. Of course, for your monitoring group, it is not exclusive and designed to be open to other Member States.

1. An essential role which now lacks dynamism

It was the Élysée Treaty that gave birth to the famous Franco-German partnership. Signed on 22 January 1963, it had three objectives: strengthen Franco-German reconciliation, forge a real friendship between the two countries and encourage the building of a unified Europe, a genuine shared objective between two peoples.

Airbus, TV channel ARTE and the Franco-German Youth Office are traditionally quoted as indicators of the exceptional quality and character of the Franco-German relationship. This partnership during its «glory days» played a major role in the great advances in the building of Europe: the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty, the single currency and more recently, the implementation of the Banking Union.

As a result, the importance of the Franco-German partnership is affirmed as vital for the Union. The cumulative weight of the «France-German» economies make them the third biggest economic bloc in the world behind the United States and China. It's a reality which is far from negligible at a time when we are going back to some sort of balance of power between Continent States.

In addition this economic weight, France and Germany have long given real momentum to the development of the European Union and this is not because these two countries share many similarities and are different from other Member States but because they are different from each other. Thus, as long as a Franco-German compromise exists, we are not generally too far from a possible rallying point, an acceptable working basis for both the «Europe of the north» and the «Europe of the South» or for the representatives of each of the lines of division, be it economic, social or other areas of the Union. Similarly, another strength of the Franco-German engine is its exemplary nature: seeing these countries making an effort to transcend their differences has often been a source of encouragement for other Member States to do likewise. It is this which embodies the driving force of the Franco-German «engine».

The Franco-German partnership is however still frequently challenged. The anniversaries of the Treaty are regularly commemorated18(*), culminating in 2013, with a declaration known as the «Berlin declaration». The practical effects of the «European engine» are however slightly outdated, and the most recent examples of successes seem to be fewer and less structured.

The joint Berlin declaration, for example, introduced «new ambitions for European policies, in particular in the area of research and innovation, energy, transport, industrial policy, digital economy, the area of freedom, security and justice, including through the introduction of a European Public Prosecutor's Office, for defence». It also reaffirmed that France and Germany were «committed to further developing Franco-German cooperation and to make it work for the benefit of deepening the Economic and Monetary Union so that Europe overcomes its difficulties and we are able to come out of the crisis stronger». Results are yet to be seen.

It is clear that the recent crises which have faced the Union, such as the Greek situation and that of the migrants, has not strengthened the bilateral relationship between France and Germany. It also emerged that the fundamental decisions, on major issues, seemed to be taken by one of the two countries within the partnership. Furthermore, structurally speaking, for ten years there has been strong economic divergence: in terms of growth, unemployment, competitiveness and financial balance, the gulfs are increasing. For several years, the signs of imbalance have also been observed in the bilateral relationship. In this context, the persistence of the Franco-German partnership as a European dynamic must be reaffirmed.

2. For a Franco-German initiative for the renewal of the European Union

First of all, it must be borne in mind that no alternative exists to the Franco-German engine for Europe. This means that if the Franco-German engine has suffered a long-term break down, then Europe will be weakened. Therefore the weight of our joint responsibility is considerable. Dialogue between France and Germany must therefore be deepened in order to develop a common vision on the balance between the need to better involve national parliaments in the European decisional process and the imperative need to avoid weakening EU institutions during such a complex time.

Renewed Franco-German momentum is the only response to the challenges which the European Union has to face. This will require a firm commitment by France to remedy its public finances. France must secure stronger growth, create more jobs, and thus move closer to Germany both in response to the top expectation of the French which is and remains employment, to fulfil our commitments to apply European criteria relating to the deficit and public debt, and to support European convergence. Without convergence, within 10 years, the European project will no longer make sense or be workable.

This convergence is a prerequisite for the building of confidence in our bilateral relationship, it is the fuel for the Franco-German engine. It is within this context that Franco-German action can be envisaged, after elections have taken place in our two countries, to herald a period of stability which must be used to rebuild the European Union on the basis of a strong political consensus. It would be an opportunity to define a Franco-German roadmap for the next 15 years which, on the basis of the recognition of shared values and the same medium-term vision, provides a reference framework for Franco-German cooperation for a consolidated Europe. This document, organised around several broad themes, must deepen the initiatives of the framework of the Franco-German Agenda 2020, adopted on 4 February 2010 with its 80 proposals, and updated in 2013 on the 50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty.

This road map would be a sign of an even more solid cooperation and show that Germany and France have made the necessary efforts to examine the range of issues facing the new century, the real challenge to civilisation, the technological and scientific advances as well as the digitisation of our societies and economies creating new social relations and new cultural practices. Based on this shared analysis, with an emphasis on European values, the Franco-German partnership must seek to unite Member States and respond to the aspirations of the peoples who want to retain their national identity and better combine it with their European identity.

This will give a new inclusive and stronger Franco-German impetus. This collaboration must be inclusive as if the Franco-German engine is essential, it must not be perceived as exclusive, and must be open to other partnerships in different formats: the Weimar Triangle with Poland, euro zone, Schengen area, etc.

To strengthen the cohesion of Member States and the renewal of the European Union, the Franco-German partnership must implement enhanced cooperation between the States which desire it, in the areas where the principal of subsidiarity is applicable, that is to say where action at a European level is more pertinent than action at a national one. Clearly, cooperation is needed on defence, the development of internal security and border reinforcement, sustainable development and the implementation of the COP 21, digital policy, employment and training policy and even energy policy.

Recommendations on approaches for relaunching the European project

1. Presenting a united front in Brexit negotiations:

- Reaffirming the common commitment of France and Germany not to disassociate access to the single market with the strict application of the four freedoms of movement: the free movement of people, the free movement of goods, the free movement of capital and the free movement of services;

- Maintaining unity between the 27 Member States in dealing with the United Kingdom before and during Brexit negotiation;

- Maintaining high level strategic dialogue with the United Kingdom after Brexit, in particular in the areas of foreign policy and defence;

- Creating conditions for high level Franco-German political dialogue before and during Brexit negotiations.

2. Contributing to the emergence of a common analysis of the challenges of the 20th century and removing barriers to Franco-German cohesion:

- Being a driving force for Europe. In the face of international crises, growing geopolitical threats, the temptation to implement purely national policies, Germany and France must, as stipulated in the joint Berlin declaration, reaffirm the driving force role of the Franco-German partnership in European affairs, in a process aimed at including other Member States;

- Defining the objectives of the European Union in the 21st century. Elections will take place in 2017 in France and Germany* leading to a period of five years of stability which must be used to bring about a political dialogue which defines the issues of the new century. A joint analysis of Europe's strengths and the challenges it faces, as well as the expectations of European peoples, would direct European Union action;

- Affirming European values and the need for peace-seeking diplomacy. In a world which is rearming itself, where external threats are internal threats, the Franco-German partnership must defend European power and be a power for peace. A conference bringing together German and French political institutions and foundations, and parliamentarians could be organised on these issues;

- Defining a Franco-German roadmap for the next 15 years which, on the basis of the recognition of shared values and the same medium-term vision, provides a reference framework for Franco-German cooperation for a consolidated Europe. This document, organised around several broad themes, must deepen the initiatives of the framework of the Franco-German Agenda 2020, adopted in 2010 and of the framework of the anniversary of the Élysée Treaty in 2013;

- Promoting the convergence of economic structural reforms on both sides of the Rhine.

3. Developing the enhanced cooperation of the Franco-German initiative:

- In the area of defence: ensure the full implementation of the Franco-German initiative of September 2016, accepted by Spain and Italy. This involves the implementation of an «annual review of coordinated defence», voluntary dialogue for planning budgets and defence capacities and the creation of a permanent planning structure for the command and control of CSDP military operations, proposals not taken up at the European Council in December 2016;

- In the area of energy, given the strong divergence of respective models, for the time being should favour two issues of major importance for the whole Union: the management of networks and of wholesale markets;

- In the digital domain, acting with the Commission to implement a genuine industrial policy aimed at helping Europe to compete with giants America and China;

- In the Union's economic and monetary domain, taking the necessary initiative to strengthen the institutional governance of the euro zone.

* Parliamentary elections will also be taking place in 2017 in Ireland, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.

* 18 In January 2003, on the occasion of the celebrations of the forty year anniversary of the signing of the Treaty, the bilateral coordination between France and Germany was given a fresh boost with the implementation of the Franco-German Ministerial Council which meets twice a year (replacing the Franco-German summits which had been established by the Treaty) and a Franco-German Day (which has taken place on 22 January each year since the 40th anniversary).