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 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 expand 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, both meeting more than four times in less than a year.
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).
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)
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 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 some 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 supported almost 300 projects in its first year, totalling €2.8 million in funding.
The French cultural, school, scientific and technical cooperation network in Germany is dense and diverse:
- The Institut Français of Germany, with 11 centres in addition to its Berlin headquarters;
- 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 two Franco-German high schools in Freiburg and Saarbrücken, as well as one in Buc, France.
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: 26 May 2021