Saturday

18th Jan 2020

France and Germany to unveil 10-year plan

  • The Franco-German partnership has not always run smoothly (Photo: Council of European Union)

Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday (4 February) are set to unveil their own economic and political strategy document, the "Franco-German Agenda 2020," in an attempt to put some substance in the widely advertised but not always smoothly working partnership between the EU's two major economies.

The plan, including 80 separate measures, ranges from economic and fiscal initiatives to common school books and simpler rules for Franco-German marriages. It is set to be published at the end of a joint ministerial council meeting of the two countries, chaired by both Mr Sarkozy and Ms Merkel in the Elysee palace.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The two leaders have in the past disagreed on several issues, especially on economic recovery. Mr Sarkozy supportd an EU-wide stimulus package, while Ms Merkel ibelieves this should be done at the national level.

With the Thursday meeting, marking exactly 100 days after the German chancellor's re-election and her first trip abroad – to Paris, Ms Merkel is to signal that the Franco-German partnership is up and running again.

"We want to see in the coming years how we can take joint initiative on important topics," a source from Ms Merkel's entourage told Deutsche Presse Agentur.

The idea of having a full joint ministerial session was aimed at letting the new German ministers get to know their French counterparts, after last year's elections changed Ms Merkel's coalition partner.

Mr Sarkozy, for his part, has put the Murat room at disposal for this joint session, the same room where his own ministers usually gather every Wednesday morning, Le Figaro writes.

However, Mr Sarkozy's proposal of a "Franco-German minister" was rejected by Berlin for "political and institutional reasons," the French paper notes. Instead, the respective EU affairs ministers in some cases will be able to join meetings of the other cabinet.

The plan itself is centred on six themes, with economic and fiscal policy featuring prominently. A common "observatory" of economic policies is to be set up, as well as a stronger co-operation in this field.

Nothing is foreseen, however, on how to deal with ailing economies in the euro-zone, such as in the Greek and Spanish cases.

On the research and education front, the "2020 Agenda" aims to double the number of college and doctors' degrees in Franco-German universities. Joint research teams are also planned, as well as a "science train" travelling through both countries advertising research and science to youngsters.

In foreign affairs, Paris pledges to support Berlin's efforts to gain its own permanent seat on the UN Security Council, the decision-making body of the international organisation. Currently, permanent members with veto rights remain the five victors of the Second World War: France, Great Britain, the US, China and Russia.

Meanwhile, the name "Agenda 2020" is hardly original. The European Commission has already been working since last year on the eponymous ten-year plan to replace the failed Lisbon Strategy that, according to its aims, should have managed by 2010 to make Europe the most competitive economic area in the world.

Croatia's EU presidency optimism beset by problems

Croatia wants to focus on economic development, connectivity, internal and external security and a globally more assertive Europe over its six-month presidency - but Brexit and the next budget negotiations may put pay to that.

Spain poised for first coalition government since Franco

Spanish caretaker prime minister and Socialist Party (PSOE) leader, Pedro Sánchez, is expected to win the second investiture vote on Tuesday - after he lost the first attempt on Sunday in an extremely tight result.

Catalan support for Sanchez breaks Spanish deadlock

Catalonia's largest separatist party to abstain during the upcoming confidence vote in the Socialist-led government in exchange for promises of political dialogue. Meanwhile a Belgian judge has suspended an arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont.

Austria's Kurz strikes coalition deal with Greens

Austria's ruling conservatives have agreed to form an unprecedented coalition government with the Greens after months of negotiations - in a deal that could foreshadow similar partnerships in Germany.

Catalan party: release leader after MEP 'immunity' verdict

The European Court of Justice (CJEU) ruled on Thursday (19 December) that imprisoned Catalan leader, Oriol Junqueras, enjoys parliamentarian immunity as MEP, in a legal victory for the separatist movement which saw nine of its leaders jailed earlier this year.

News in Brief

  1. 'No objection in principle' on Huawei cooperation, EU says
  2. French aircraft carrier goes to Middle East amid tensions
  3. EU suggests temporary ban on facial recognition
  4. EU industry cries foul on Chinese restrictions
  5. 'Devil in detail', EU warns on US-China trade deal
  6. Trump threatened EU-tariffs over Iran, Germany confirms
  7. EU trade commissioner warns UK of 'brinkmanship'
  8. Germany strikes coal phase-out deal

Wilmès becomes first female PM of Belgium

On Sunday, Sophie Wilmès was appointed as the new prime minister of Belgium - becoming the first female head of government in the country's history. She replaces Charles Michel who becomes president of the European Council.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us