Franco-German Council of Ministers
On 22 January 2003, for the 40th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty, French President Jacques Chirac and German Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder decided to introduce a new format for regular high-level consultations, creating the Franco-German Council of Ministers (CMFA/DFMR).
These Council meetings are held once or twice annually, alternately in France and Germany. They bring together the French President of the Republic, the German Federal Chancellor, and all or some French and German Ministers. The Council meetings provide coordination for French-German cooperation at the highest level.
A Commissioner for Franco-German cooperation is designated in each country. They are responsible for coordinating the preparations for Franco-German Council of Ministers meetings and tracking the implementation of the decisions made.
Franco-German Council of Ministers meetings have been behind common positions on European priorities such as:
• Strengthening the economic and budgetary union;
• The European Security and Defence Policy;
• Energy and the climate;
• Support for growth, investment and jobs;
• Combating tax avoidance;
• Migration issues;
• The digital agenda (copyright, regulations of online platforms, reduced VAT on online press and books, etc.).
The Franco-German Council of Ministers has produced initiatives that directly benefit French and German citizens and aim to forge closer ties between civil societies. For example:
• Linking of French and German TGV/ICE high-speed rail systems and extension of the tram from Strasbourg to Kehl;
• Creation of cross-border recruitment services that have helped thousands of people to find jobs in France or Germany;
• Creation of several Franco-German programmes in vocational colleges;
• Drafting of a common history textbook for schools;
• Establishment of French-German civic service;
• Development of a shared matrimonial regime for binational couples
• Co-located embassies, consulates and cultural institutes
• Cooperation in combating traffic offences;
• Deployment of a French-German operational unit for securing events;
• Support for cinema co-productions;
• Creation of Franco-German literary prizes.
Respective profiles of Franco-German diplomats
In this context, we interviewed the German diplomat Gudrun Lingner in Paris in 2017 (in French). She worked as Deputy Commissioner and Adviser in the office of the Minister for Europe. We then met with the French diplomat Lucie Stepanyan, who had the same functions in the office of the Minister of State for Europe at the Auswärtiges Amt.