The Franco-German relationship in the European Union: A short overview

01-10-2015

With Franco-German relations following the Second World War being at the very origins of the European Union, their bilateral cooperation has often been seen as the 'engine' of EU integration. Regular bilateral cooperation between the two countries was institutionalised with the 1963 Elysée Treaty and culminated in joint cabinet meetings and sectorial meetings at the highest political level to coordinate their positions particularly on the eve of European Council meetings. In this context, there has been criticism that such bilateral meetings pre-determine decision-making within the European Council leaving little scope for further negotiations and leaving other Member States and supranational actors as mere bystanders. However, the importance of Franco-German cooperation in breaking deadlocks in negotiations at EU level and in identifying solutions to common challenges is widely recognised. The Franco-German relationship is a longstanding and multifaceted process. This briefing does not aim at a full analysis of its complex nature but seeks to give a general overview ahead of the visit to the European Parliament of Chancellor Angela Merkel and President François Hollande on 7 October.

With Franco-German relations following the Second World War being at the very origins of the European Union, their bilateral cooperation has often been seen as the 'engine' of EU integration. Regular bilateral cooperation between the two countries was institutionalised with the 1963 Elysée Treaty and culminated in joint cabinet meetings and sectorial meetings at the highest political level to coordinate their positions particularly on the eve of European Council meetings. In this context, there has been criticism that such bilateral meetings pre-determine decision-making within the European Council leaving little scope for further negotiations and leaving other Member States and supranational actors as mere bystanders. However, the importance of Franco-German cooperation in breaking deadlocks in negotiations at EU level and in identifying solutions to common challenges is widely recognised. The Franco-German relationship is a longstanding and multifaceted process. This briefing does not aim at a full analysis of its complex nature but seeks to give a general overview ahead of the visit to the European Parliament of Chancellor Angela Merkel and President François Hollande on 7 October.