Friday

15th Dec 2017

France and Germany promise joint EU plans

  • 'Our good chemistry may be our best kept secret', Merkel said (Photo: Bundesregierung/Denzel)

Germany and France will table joint proposals for deeper eurozone integration by May and are "working closely" to get a deal on EU's seven-year budget next month, the two leaders said on Tuesday (22 January) during Franco-German festivities.

Celebrating 50 years of the Franco-German Elysee peace treaty did not go unnoticed in Berlin. Some 700 French politicians, students, mayors and artists descended upon the German capital. President Joachim Gauck chaired a gala concert. The Bundestag made room for double its normal capacity to host a joint session of the French and German parliaments.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Chancellor Angela Merkel had several meals and meetings with French President Francois Hollande, whom she now calls by his first name.

And yet at a press conference after their joint cabinets meeting, both leaders were again quizzed on why the Franco-German tandem is not working as smoothly as it did in the times of Hollande's predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, when the duo was dubbed "Merkozy."

"Perhaps it's our best kept secret that chemistry is right. Then we can work together in peace," Merkel quipped.

But in remarks both to the media and to the joint parliamentary session, she went further than ever before in accommodating some of Hollande's ideas, who, as a left-wing politician, has campaigned against Merkel's austerity drive before being elected president.

Germany had a lot to learn from France, she argued, especially on involving trade unions and other social partners when developing economic policies. Family policies are also better in France, she said.

And the habit of Franco-German proposals at EU level - interrupted after Hollande's election last year - are now back on track.

"In May we will table joint proposals ahead of the June EU council, on closer economic cooperation in the eurozone, measures to boost competitiveness and to reform our labour markets. And we will urge social partners to contribute to this endeavour," Merkel said.

Hollande added that these proposals will be "as concrete and useful as possible to guarantee growth and tackle youth unemployment."

"You may have noticed that Angela and I are not from the same political family, but in the past eight months, when I see the contribution of Germany and France, I can only welcome what we have achieved to get out of the euro crisis," he said.

Apart from joint ideas on further eurozone integration, the two leaders also pledged to get a deal on the EU seven-year budget at a summit due on 7-8 February.

"We will manage to table joint proposals for the multi-annual financial framework (MFF). Germany and France are working very closely together. This work of course makes sense only if a compromise can be found in those areas where we have our own interests. But we'll make it, I am very optimistic," Merkel said. She was hinting at France's insistence on no cuts in the EU agriculture funding from which it profits the most.

An EU source told this website that a meeting of 'sherpas' from the respective capitals in Brussels last week saw some movement on the Franco-German front, but that there was no deal yet.

Hollande also struck a positive tone about a budget deal in February: "Of course some of the responsibility for the success of this budget lies in the hands of Germany and France. European countries always look if we agree on what we are doing. I can only say: don't worry, our relationship is not exclusive and is not only in the interest of Germany and France."

What seems to be the birth of "Merlande" meanwhile is rather a continuation of a strong Franco-German tradition, Fabian Zuleeg, chief economist with the Brussels-based European Policy Centre told this website.

"If they are being concrete now, tabling joint proposals on the eurozone, it can only be a good thing for European integration. There are still a lot of differences between the two but this is a strong signal they are willing to work together," Zuleeg said.

What those May proposals will be, remains to be seen. Any ideas about a eurozone budget remain taboo in Germany ahead of general elections in September.

Merkel and Hollande dream of EU 'utopia'

German and French leaders encouraged young people to dream of a "utopian" federal state with common taxation on the eve of the Elysee treaty anniversary.

Thousands march for Catalonia in Brussels

Around 45,000 people marched in support of Catalonia in Brussels to get the EU involved in mediating the conflict with Madrid. 'Europe must realise that it can still play a role in the Catalan crisis,' said self-exiled Catalan leader Puigdemont.

Migration looms over summit, as Africa pledges fall short

EU summit leaders on Thursday will not reach any deal on migration, while Italy and the Visegrad Group countries confront each other on the Trust Fund for Africa. The debate on internal EU asylum relocation, however, remains off the table.

Romania searching for EU respectability

Ten years after its accession and a year before holding the EU presidency, the fastest-growing EU economy wants to "engage" more with its partners. But concerns over the rule of law continue to give the country a bad image.

News in Brief

  1. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  2. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  3. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  4. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  5. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont
  6. French central bank lifts 2017 growth forecast
  7. EU leaders set to move Brexit talks on to next stage
  8. EU leaders confirm support for two-state solution

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states
  2. EU asylum debate reopens old wounds
  3. Estonia completes two out of three priority digital bills
  4. EU countries are not 'tax havens', parliament says
  5. Tech firms' delays mean EU needs rules for online terror
  6. Slovak PM: Human rights are not a travel pass to EU
  7. British PM limps to EU capital after Brexit defeat
  8. US pleads for clarity on Brexit aviation 'black hole'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  2. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  3. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  6. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  7. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  8. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  9. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  10. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  11. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  12. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives