The Treaty of Aachen on Franco-German Cooperation and Integration
On Tuesday, 22 January 2019, the 56th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty, the President of the French Republic and the German Federal Chancellor signed a new treaty on Franco-German cooperation and integration in Aachen.
The Treaty of Aachen entered into force on Wednesday, 22 January 2020, exactly one year after it was signed.
In January 2020, France and Germany began implementing the Treaty of Aachen and in 2019, they identified 15 priority projects to be monitored by the Franco-German Council of Ministers.
At the Franco-German Council of Ministers meeting in May 2021, the two States decided to continue on this path, launching 13 new cooperation projects on topics that enhance and complement the Treaty.
The 15 priority projects identified under the Treaty of Aachen
1. Increased cooperation within the United Nations Security Council, during Germany’s two-year term as non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2019 and 2020.
This project increased bilateral dialogue between the French and German presidencies of the United Nations Security Council. In April 2019, the French and German Foreign Ministers launched the Alliance for Multilateralism, which aims to bring together the countries that believe in the importance of cooperation for international stability. It has met 9 times since.
2. Creation of four integrated Franco-German cultural institutes (Rio de Janeiro, Palermo, Erbil and Bishkek) and co-locations of five French and German institutes (Córdoba, Atlanta, Glasgow, Minsk and Ramallah). The first Franco-German cultural institute, “Kultur Ensemble”, opened in Palermo in June 2021. It hosts a workshop for artists in residence, among other projects.
3. Creation of a Franco-German digital platform with audiovisual content and information.
Several joint projects led by French and German broadcasters have been developed since 2020, such as Arte’s “European Collection” of high-quality audiovisual content and documentaries, in collaboration with French, Swiss and German public broadcasters and the ENTR information platform on social issues, available for young Europeans between the ages of 18 and 34 on social media since summer 2021.
4. Expansion of mobility programmes, for example with the Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO), especially for young people with special needs, interns and trainees, and the setting of quantifiable objectives. Although there was a significant decrease in physical student mobility between 2020 and 2022 due to the pandemic, the FGYO developed digital and hybrid exchanges between young people and proposed a resumption plan for youth exchange programmes.
5. Creation of a joint Citizens’ Fund designed to support joint projects set up by members of civil society, in particular citizens’ initiatives and town twinning partnerships.
Since its launch in April 2020, the Franco-German Citizens’ Fund has supported over 470 Franco-German citizens’ projects (369 in 2021 alone), 70% of which were led by French and German associations and half of them as part of a twinning programme.
6. Creation of a Cross-Border Cooperation Committee responsible for drawing up a common strategy for identifying priority projects, monitoring difficulties encountered in border regions and proposing solutions to address them.
Since its creation on 22 January 2020, the day the Treaty came into force, the Cross-Border Cooperation Committee has been fully mobilized to preserve and strengthen cross-border cooperation during the public health crisis. The Committee has had a Permanent Secretariat in Kehl since 2021. At the last Franco-German Council of Ministers meeting on 31 May 2021, it presented recommendations to improve the daily lives of people living in the Franco German border area.
7. Joint implementation of a regional project to repurpose the area adjoining the Fessenheim nuclear power plant, which has now entered decommissioning, by creating a Franco-German economic activity and innovation complex, including projects in the area of cross-border mobility, the energy transition and innovation.
Following the closure of the Fessenheim plant in June 2020, a joint feasibility study has been launched on setting up innovative activities for the energy transition.
8. Enhancement of cross-border railway travel, for example: Colmar-Freiburg, by rebuilding the bridge across the Rhine, depending on the results of the feasibility study underway, as well as the rail lines between Strasbourg and Frankfurt Airport, Strasbourg and Palatinate and Sarrbrücken and Paris.
9. Strengthening of high-level bilateral cooperation on energy and climate, especially for national plans. This should make it possible to share proposals for the development of the electricity mix, study the possibility of establishing a common Franco-German plan in national strategies and create incentives to make it easier to achieve national objectives in the energy transition.
By reaffirming joint support for the European Green Deal and highlighting the importance of the ecological transition, the French-German Initiative for the European Recovery from the Coronavirus Crisis, proposed on 18 May 2020, greatly contributed to its implementation and to the European ambition for the climate transition.
10. Creation of a Franco-German research and innovation network (“virtual centre”) for artificial intelligence, founded on the two countries’ existing structures.
The research and innovation network was formed in the spring of 2020. Two calls for artificial intelligence projects were successfully launched in October 2020 (research) with €10 million in funding and in February 2021 (research and innovation) with €20 million in funding. The first call for AI research projects was a great success, with 152 proposals put forward, 21 projects financed and certain projects launched in summer 2021.
11. Cooperation in the space sector focusing on three priority areas: promoting a common strategy for a more innovative Europe within the new space economy; cooperation boosting competitiveness of the space industry, in particular in an optimized industrial framework; consolidating independent access for Europe to space by investing in research and development, industrial streamlining and a preference for European launch vehicles.
The space industry is among the four key industries identified by the President of the Republic and the German Federal Chancellor for Europe’s recovery. A Franco-German agreement was signed in the summer of 2021 and several cooperation projects are underway.
12. Promotion of international guidelines on the ethics of new technologies and of shared values in the digital and digital society spheres.
Franco-German coordination has continued between the ambassadors for digital technology, in particular in the framework of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. The signing of the Berlin Declaration on Digital Society and Value-based Digital Government on 8 December 2020 helped enact major principles of the government’s digital transformation. The agreement reached in December 2020 during the German Presidency of the Council of Ministers of the European Union on the European draft regulation addressing the dissemination of terrorist content online marked a step forward in this challenge, as did the general guidelines established at the Council of Ministers of the European Union at the end of 2021 on the proposed Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act, which should be adopted in 2022.
13. Creation of a group of experts in the social field, including social partners, on “the future of work.”
The group of experts on the future of work was launched in October 2019 in Paris. It has met four times, providing a forum for discussing best practices, particularly with regard to vocational training.
14. Cooperation within the European Union in the field of financial services and markets, in order to produce a high quality regulatory framework, in particular for sustainable finance.
There is close Franco-German cooperation concerning the capital markets union, and frequent discussions are held about sustainable finance.
15. Creation of a Franco-German Forum for the Future, in the form of a platform for dialogue on the transformational processes underway in our societies.
Since the first meeting of its steering committee on 7 July 2020, the Franco-German Forum for the Future has been working on the ecological transition and economic and social resilience, topics on which it should recommend proposals in spring 2022. The Forum will continue its work on the ecological transition in its second work cycle starting in the first half of 2022 and it will review urban development and planning.
Building on Franco-German cooperation
In addition to the 15 priority areas, the two States said they wanted to strengthen their cooperation during the Franco-German Council of Ministers meeting on 31 May 2021. They therefore committed to launch 13 new cooperation projects:
1. Develop a strategy to promote the partner language.
2. Jointly contribute to the Conference on the future of Europe, by adding a Franco German dimension.
3. Launch a joint Working Group on Gender Equality, Families and Social Cohesion.
4. Work for a closer partnership with Africa in trade, the fight against climate change and support for Sahel countries.
5. Further strengthen cross-border cooperation, including through the work of the Franco-German Committee for Cross-Border Cooperation, by initiating dialogue to improve health crisis management and prevention in the border region and establishing a joint survey on the living situation in the border region in order to improve cross-border policy making.
6. Develop a Franco-German network programme for young leaders in close cooperation with partners from civil society and the private sector.
7. Work together to create new memorial sites to honour victims of the two World Wars.
8. Further strengthen the bilateral dialogue to solve the issue of partial unemployment benefits earned by cross-border workers, with a view to preserving those workers’ interests.
9. Work together to create a Joint Working Group on a digital Euro, comprised of the ECB, Member States and the Commission.
10. Establish overnight train connections between France and Germany, including between Paris and Berlin, within the framework of the Trans-Europ-Express strategy, as from end-2023.
11. Develop more pan-European industrial cooperation and stimulate private investments, including on the important project of common European interest (IPCEI) on hydrogen and its derivatives.
12. Strengthen our digital sovereignty, in particular in the area of cybersecurity, with co funded research projects.
13. Support North-South cooperation in the field of mathematics with Germany joining the French UNESCO category II CIMPA (International Center for Pure and Applied Mathematics).
Updated: January 2022