The Elysée Treaty in five questions
The Elysée Treaty was signed on 22 January 1963 by France and the Federal Republic of Germany. Following several decades of rivalries and conflicts, Germany and France sent a message of reconciliation and laid the groundwork for close bilateral cooperation to support European integration. What does this Treaty contain and what are the concrete benefits for the two countries and their friendship?
1. Why do we say that the Elysée Treaty sealed reconciliation?
The Elysée Treaty, signed 18 years after the Second World War, is the result of two men’s rapprochement efforts, West German Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and French President Charles de Gualle. Both men opposed the Nazi regime and wanted to their hand in friendship to enemies of the past. With this treaty, they decided to establish a new relationship to seal a lasting friendship.
2. Why is it a treaty?
General de Gaulle and Federal Chancellor Adenauer wanted to sign a treaty rather than a simple declaration. They wanted to indicate a lasting commitment between their two countries that went beyond any future political changes and to make their cooperation official and systematic.
3. Why do we say that the Elysée Treaty is the cornerstone of France and Germany’s friendship?
The signatories considered it important that the Treaty not simply be a document between Heads of State but that it involve citizens so they could learn to get to know one another, speak to one another and appreciate one another. One of the successful outcomes of this Treaty was that it brought the two peoples much closer together. This can be seen in the signature of more than 2,300 twinning programmes and a raft of civil society initiatives.
4. The Treaty also created the French-German Youth Office. What is its purpose?
To strengthen ties between young people in our two countries, the Treaty created the French-German Youth Office (OFAJ or Deutsch-Französisches Jugendwerk or DFJW in German), which aims to facilitate exchanges and reciprocal language learning. Since 1963, some 9 million young German and French people have participated in 320,000 exchange programmes through the OFAJ.
5. What were the Treaty’s political implications?
Politically, the Treaty provides for meetings at least twice a year for Heads of State and Government and three times a year for foreign ministers, in addition to meetings focusing on defence, education and youth. Since the Treaty was signed, the leaders of the two countries have met regularly and pursued discussions regardless of what is happening politically on either side of the Rhine River.
Updated: 21 January 2019