The Treaty on Franco-German Friendship (known as the Élysée Treaty), signed on 22 January 1963 by German Federal Chancellor Adenauer and France’s President de Gaulle, is the foundation of the relationship forged between France and Germany. It provides for systematic consultations through regular meetings at all levels, from Heads of State and Government to ministers and senior officials, which have formed a Franco-German “reflex” in the two countries. The arrangements were clarified and extended on the 25th and 40th anniversaries of the Treaty, with the creation of the Franco-German Defence and Security Council (CFADS/DFVSR) and Franco-German Economic and Financial Council (CEFFA/DFFWR) in 1988 and of the annual Franco-German Council of Ministers (CMFA/DFMR) in 2003, which meets in France or Germany on an alternating basis. After meeting in Toulouse on 16 October 2019, the latter met by videoconference on 31 May 2021.
The Treaty on Franco-German Cooperation and Integration, or “Treaty of Aachen”, signed on 22 January 2019 by President Macron and Federal Chancellor Merkel, took effect on 22 January 2020. It builds on the 1963 Élysée Treaty, strengthening the already close bilateral ties in a European framework and helping the countries address contemporary issues. It came with a list of 15 key projects, supplemented by the CMFA/DFMR meeting on 31 May 2021. Moreover, the Franco-German Cross-Border Cooperation Committee, created on 22 January 2020 upon the formal entry into force of the Treaty, opened a new chapter of closer bilateral ties. Since 2021, it has had a joint secretariat and has presented initial recommendations to improve the daily lives of people living in the Franco-German border area.
Franco-German parliamentary cooperation has also been stepped up. The Franco German Parliamentary Assembly (APFA/DFPV), made up of 50 French and 50 German members of parliament, was created in March 2019 to help improve the implementation of the Treaty of Aachen and strengthen Franco-German cooperation, particularly when it comes to harmonious transposition of European directives.
The Cross-Border Cooperation Committee and the APFA/DFPV have worked hard since spring 2020 in response to the public health crisis.
French Consulates General: Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Saarbrücken, Stuttgart
French community in Germany: 160,000 people (as of December 2013).
German community in France: 130,000 people (as of November 2012).
Visit by Federal Chancellor Scholz to Paris (10 December 2021)
Franco-German Council of Ministers (videoconference, 31 May 2021)
Visit by Federal Chancellor Merkel to Brégançon (20 August 2020)
Visit by President Macron to Meseberg (29 June 2020)
Visit by Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian to Berlin (19 June 2020)
French-German Initiative for the European Recovery from the Coronavirus Crisis (18 May 2020)
Participation of President Macron in the Munich Security Conference (13 February 2020)
Participation of Mr Christophe Castaner, French Minister of the Interior, in a German Federal Cabinet meeting in Berlin (3 December 2019)
Franco-German Council of Ministers in Toulouse (16 October 2019)
Participation of Mr Heiko Maas, German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, in a French Council of Ministers meeting (19 June 2019)
Participation of Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in a German Federal Cabinet meeting in Berlin (27 March 2019)
Signing of the Treaty on Franco-German Cooperation by President Macron and Federal Chancellor Merkel in Aachen on 22 January 2019
First Franco-German Council of Ministers (2003, for the 40ᵗʰ anniversary of the Élysée Treaty)
Signing of the Élysée Treaty by General de Gaulle and Federal Chancellor Adenauer in Paris on 22 January 1963
Official visit by Federal Chancellor Adenauer to France between 2 and 8 July 1962; meeting with General de Gaulle in Reims on 7 July 1962
Ambassador of France to Germany: Ms Anne-Marie Descôtes
Ambassador of Germany to France: Mr Hans-Dieter Lucas
Germany is France’s main trading partner. It is its leading customer and supplier, importing €69.84 billion in goods and services from France in 2019 and exporting €84.8 billion in return. Germany is less dependent on France for trade. After being overtaken as Germany’s leading trading partner by the United States in 2015, France has held the fourth place since 2017, behind China, the Netherlands and the United States. Since 2016, France has been Germany’s third-largest supplier (5.9% share) and second-largest customer (7.9%).
The French and German economies are extremely intertwined and complementary. 2,737 French companies are present in Germany (accounting for 30% of those present abroad in the eurozone) and employ 363,000 people. According to the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE), they generate turnover of €147 billion. Meanwhile, 3,200 German companies are established in France, employing 310,000 people and generating turnover of €141 billion.
French-German cultural and scientific cooperation is particularly strong, drawing on an extensive network of institutions including:
- The Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO), which was created in 1963 under the Élysée Treaty and has since enabled over 9 million young French and German citizens to take part in 320,000 exchange programmes;
- The Franco-German University (FGU), which was created in 1997 and is made up of a network of French and German higher education establishments that offer integrated programmes leading to binational diplomas (6,400 students);
- ARTE, a French-German cultural television channel with a European focus that was created in 1992;
- The Franco-German Cultural Council (HCCFA/DFKR), which was created in 1988, is responsible for informing the decisions of the two governments on major bilateral and European cultural matters;
- The Joint Citizens’ Fund created under the Treaty of Aachen in April 2020 supports twinning partnerships and exchanges between associations. It has supported over 470 projects, totalling €2.8 million in funding per year;
- The creation of Franco-German cultural institutes worldwide, such as Kultur Ensemble in Palermo in June 2021;
- The launch of digital European platforms by Franco-German broadcasters (ENTR for young Europeans and Arte’s “European Collection”, in particular);
- The launch of museum and heritage cooperation, particularly for works with a colonial background.
The French cultural, school, scientific and technical cooperation network in Germany is dense and diverse:
- 1 French Institute of Germany, with 11 satellites in addition to Berlin;
- 5 specialized offices in Berlin (books, cinema, theatre and dance, music and fine art);
- 11 binational structures (Franco-German cultural centres and satellites);
- 1 historical research centre (French Institute of History in Germany, in Frankfurt);
- 1 science and technology service, situated in Berlin;
- 1 French Research Institute Abroad (IFRE);
- 15 schools accredited by the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE) and three Franco-German high schools in Freiburg, Saarbrücken and Hamburg, as well as in France, with one in Buc and one in Strasbourg since 2021.
This cooperation is also embodied by diplomatic and consular co-location projects (such as the construction of a Franco-German embassy complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh, since 2013).
Updated: February 2022