Lundi 22 Avril 2019  

N°124 - Quatrième trimestre 2018

La lettre diplometque
Entretien exclusif
Diplomatie & Défense
La lettre diplometque
La lettre diplomatique Haut
  S.E.M. / H.E. Susanne Wasum-Rainer

50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty:
From reconciliation to building a stronger Europe

Over the past 50 years, Germany and France have fashioned unique relations that have in turn forged Europe’s fate.  The reconciliation they sealed with the Elysée Treaty has spawned bi-national institutions and industrial success stories that are still showing the way today. Franco-German Year celebrations were officially launched on 22 September 2012 by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and President François Hollande. German Ambassador H.E. Ms Susanne Wasum-Rainer to France shared with us her vision of this partnership and what it has achieved in the midst of a Europe that has been hit by the international economic and financial crisis.

The Diplomatic Letter: Ms Ambassador, as you know, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President François Hollande kicked off Franco-German Year ceremonies commemorating the Élysée Treaty on 8 July 2012. That treaty was adopted 50 years ago, on 22 January 1963. Why, in your view, is it still meaningful today?

H.E. Susanne Wasum-Rainer: The Élysée Treaty is one of the greatest breakthroughs in European history. It symbolises the end of enmity and the fact that reconciliation prevailed. It paved the way for the deep-reaching ties based on trust that our two governments and civil societies at every level then began to build.

T.D.L.: Which will be the celebration highlights, especially for civil society and the business world?

H.E.S.W-R.: The joint session by our governments and parliaments on 22 January 2013 in Berlin will be one of the Franco-German Year milestones. At that gathering, our leaders will issue a joint political statement reasserting the responsibility that our two countries have embraced together since the Franco-German reconciliation and that we will continue to embrace together for the future of Europe.
The French-German Youth Office’s 50th anniversary celebrations in Paris on 5 July will be another highlight.
The many other events organised in France Germany are on, the Internet site we have on-lined especially for this anniversary.

T.D.L.: President François Hollande raised people’s eyebrows when he called for a new agreement between France and Germany, even before his election, in February 2012. What do you think the new deal to deepen the partnership between Berlin and Paris should look like? Closer ties between German and French youth via the FGYO is one of the Élysée Treaty’s most tangible outcomes but where else do you think your two countries should interact more?

H.E.S.W-R.: The Élysée Treaty is a forward-looking project. French-German cooperation is essential for deeper European integration. Our two countries are responsible for tabling proposals that will rally all Member States and step up exchanges between people in our two countries. We need to think about how to encourage youths to learn the partner country’s language. We need to promote job mobility between our two countries with an even more targeted approach.
The Élysée Treaty was signed 50 years ago and WWII ended almost 70 years ago. So the “reconciliation mission” between France and Germany no doubt appears less pressing than it was originally. But we cannot rest on our laurels: we need to work relentlessly to deepen exchanges between our two countries. We need to keep up our efforts, and keep them focused. Otherwise, we will not be able to keep the density and quality of exchanges between our two countries where they are today.

T.D.L.: The French-German alliance is considered the driver behind European construction – and is weathering the Euro zone crisis. As the gap between the economic situations in both countries is widening, how strong would you say the tandem at the core of the EU really is?

H.E.S.W-R.: European integration will not move forward without consensus between France and Germany. The French and German governments are aware of that. The close consultation between France and Germany over the past few months, and between Chancellor Angela Merkel and former President Sarkozy, then President François Hollande, contributed a lot to Europe’s measures to stabilise the Euro. Despite pressure from the crisis of confidence we are seeing today, European integration has taken several momentous steps forward (the European Stability Mechanism, and the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union).
The European Economic and Monetary Union as it was established 20 years ago, however, is not strong enough yet. We need to learn from that and add what was missing 20 years ago, i.e. complete economic and monetary union. The French-German tandem is working on that. We do not always see eye-to-eye on this issue but that is precisely what often leads us to the middle ground that in turn leads to Europe-wide agreements.
From the German government’s perspective, there are four decisive factors to renew economic and monetary policy: it will need more common financial policy, more common budget policy, more common economic policy and more democratic control and hence legitimacy.

T.D.L.: Beyond the European budget treaty, how do you feel about pooling Euro-Zone debt and what measures would you suggest to accelerate economic recovery in the EU?

H.E.S.W-R.: France and Germany believe in solidarity. We need a form of solidarity that evens the competitive playing field among Member States. So we want reforms that Member States need to apply – and can apply. It is essential to nurture comparable economic and budget conditions in all Member States.

T.D.L.: The European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize on 12 October 2012. What is your view on that decision?

H.E.S.W-R.: Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union was an amazing decision. European integration is the most successful project for peace in human history. Peace and freedom emerged from the devastation that the two horrific world wars left in their wake. Age-old enemies became close friends, and went on to become inseparable partners.
The Nobel Prize is great: it has given us heart to tackle our own issues even more enthusiastically, set an example with our European cooperation model, and do even more to steer the world towards peaceful development.

T.D.L.: In contrast with the EU’s role promoting peace, Europe’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) is still limited. How is your country planning to upgrade its defence policy as part of efforts to revive the “Europe of Defence” that Berlin and Paris are pushing for? How will that process reshape missions between the EU and NATO? More specifically, how are you planning to enhance intervention capabilities in European military cooperation instruments such as the Franco-German Brigade or Eurocorps?

H.E.S.W-R.: Germany has made a crucial contribution to the CSDP. It has been involved, alongside its partner countries, in efforts to build its civilian, police and military capabilities, from the start. The strategic partnership between the EU and NATO is a sine-qua-non for CSDP success. These two organisations are not competing with each other: they complement each other. A dynamic CSDP with the wherewithal to take action strengthens the Alliance’s European pillar, and therefore strengthens NATO as a whole.
The Franco-German Brigade was established in 1989 and has grown into a fully operational brigade, which has displayed an impressive range of very specific capabilities within NATO and the EU. It has inter-alia engaged multinational operational forces in Bosnia and in Kabul, in Afghanistan. French and German military forces together add up to a large unit like none other worldwide. They are a model for binational and multinational cooperation and for effective armed forces interoperability.

T.D.L.: Germany and France have appointed joint working groups to consolidate Europe’s armament industry, and they should be submitting their reports in December 2012. What are you expecting from this consultation?

H.E.S.W-R.: Under the Franco-German council’s “Projects” working group’s aegis, five French-German working groups were charged with drawing up roadmaps and developing dialogue on weapons spanning outer space, land-based systems, helicopters, anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence systems, and military aircraft certification.
If necessary, these working groups will be completed with additional ones and working groups specialising in other key activities with a view to putting French-German cooperation at the cornerstone of the European armament industry.
These working groups will be required to send stakeholders their reports on each of the identified cooperation areas and on the concrete projects revolving around them. Our two countries will be able to exchange information and data in order to assess possible cooperation projects (which entails drafting the reports I just mentioned), and for that purpose alone.
Whenever possible, these working groups will draw up joint roadmaps through 2030 and even beyond for the possible armament-related cooperation initiatives that have been identified.

T.D.L.:What is your take on the fact that plans to merge European consortium EADS and British group BAE failed? Looking at the bigger picture, how can synergies between the French and German economies help to rebuild the European industrial policy momentum that the European Commission is calling for?

H.E.S.W-R.: Merging two world-class European industrial groups is a tough job. You need enough time to review the merger from every possible angle because you need to make sure everyone involved will gain from it. It is obviously a shame that it was impossible to reconcile the many stakeholders’ interests within the established timeframe. On such large projects, it is vital to agree on every minor detail beforehand. It is too difficult to iron out the creases afterwards.
France and Germany have very complementary economies, in particular because their industrial profiles are very similar. We could create French-German synergies in many cases. Those partnerships would weigh more than the partners would on their own. Airbus is the best example of that. A project that big would never have happened on a national scale. There are no doubt lessons to learn from that example, even for Europe.
There is one overriding conditions for corporate partnerships to work: you need to accommodate every partner’s interests. To get ahead in a global economy, you need to harness your strengths in other markets, not withdraw into your domestic market. Today, demand is shifting away from mature economies such as the ones in European countries and towards booming markets.

T.D.L.: Along the same lines as the EADS Group and its various companies, business partnerships in high-tech sectors are one of the greatest success stories since French-German reconciliation. Where can you see fresh opportunities to ramp up economic synergies between the two countries? Could renewable energies, especially now that Germany is walking away from nuclear power, provide fresh fertile ground for business exchanges?

H.E.S.W-R.: French and German companies have built close, deep-reaching business cooperation ties in many sectors. I am not just thinking about business exchanges: I am also thinking about wider investment and partnership projects aimed at engineering and manufacturing products, which have been common for a long time how.
The sectors that are gaining prominence and are thirsty for innovation are naturally the ones with the greatest potential for cooperation and synergies. So the questions are where is our modern society changing, where are the new challenges appearing, where do people need new solutions and, in a nutshell, what will the world need tomorrow?
We can obviously think about renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, and developing electric vehicles. There is a lot of potential there. But we mustn’t forget sustainable food production and opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry.
I think renewable energies are brimming with exciting cooperation opportunities that are worth exploring because France and Germany will need to resort to that energy more and more in the future – and will therefore need to develop new and more efficient technology for it. France is planning to cut back nuclear power from 75% of its total capacity today to 50% in 2025. The energy transition in Germany will involve shutting down all our nuclear plants by 2022. So our two countries have a lot to gain from developing renewable energies.
Two issues revolving around securing energy supplies – exploring new sources of energy and extending cross-border networks – have shifted into the spotlight. The first essential step to tackle both those issues is to develop the technology that will make both prospects technically viable.
We can also liaise on storage technology (smart networks for example) and on cooperating on research in that field.
The fact that we have different energy production capabilities will not stand in the way of creating a harmonised domestic energy market. We need to focus on what makes our approaches complementary, not on the differences between them. Companies understood that renewable energies are a growth market a long time ago. In 2010, that market had grown over 20% and was worth US$ 200 billion worldwide. In Germany alone, renewable energies are providing jobs for more than 380,000 people and the figures are bound to increase. Companies that fine-tune new technologies for that market will also find more opportunities on export markets. French and German governments opened the German-French Renewable Energy Coordination Office in 2006 to promote exchanges between our countries on that front.

T.D.L.: How can both countries step up bilateral cooperation to support innovation and exports, especially targeting SMBs on both sides of the Rhine?

H.E.S.W-R.: Innovation usually takes substantial resources, so bilateral cooperation on that front is especially beneficial for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs). Support from a partner is also valuable to establish a solid presence on tough export markets. And the human factor is the overarching factor in any partnership and cooperation endeavour. If you want to succeed with someone, you need to get on well with them and understand how they do things. Training courses and internships in partner countries help in that direction. And you mustn’t underestimate the importance of learning the language they speak in your partner country.
Turning science and technology into benefits for the economy and society is an essential aspect of innovation. That is why companies are so keen on harnessing those breakthroughs more easily. The joint programme by the Carnot and Fraunhofer institutes is a remarkable contribution on that front.
The Prix Franco-Allemand de l’Économie (French-German economy prize) also rewards particularly successful cross-border partnership. The bids for this prize span an impressive variety of cooperation projects that stem from cooperation between French and German partners – especially SMBs.  

T.D.L.: During the Franco-German Defence and Security Council meeting on 1 October 2012, Germany and France stated that they wanted to step up humanitarian aid for the Syrian population together. What is your view on Germany’s diplomatic efforts to reach consensus at the UN Security Council? And beyond that, how do you feel about the hurdles awaiting efforts to reform this multilateral forum in light of Germany’s non-permanent chair on Security Council through 2013?

H.E.S.W-R.: More than 340,000 Syrians have fled the violence in their country and sought refuge in neighbouring countries. That has prompted Germany to send an extra E5 million in humanitarian aid for that population. The total E28.3 million it has sent ranks Germany among the main donors on the Syrian crisis. France and Germany are working hand in hand on this issue and in particular trying to unify the opposition. We do not want the conflict in Syria to stretch to neighbouring countries. That is why Federal Foreign Affairs Minister Guido Westerwelle has urged the Syrian regime to immediately stop provocation and aggression on the Turkey-Syria border. This risk of seeing this latent border dispute escalating is growing day by day.
When the Security Council stalled, Germany called on its members to join forces. It is planning to assume responsibility in this organisation that plays a central role in international diplomatic efforts to defuse wars and crises. In Germany, there is widespread consensus around the fact that national foreign policy is tantamount to active peacekeeping policy. This stems from our history on the one hand, as well as from our political, social and economic interests on the other. That is why we are working to strengthen multilateral organisations. As the UN’s third-largest contributor, we provide substantial financial support, invest considerable resources in areas in crisis, and play a constructive and dependable role as a stakeholder in all the relevant organisations. We are naturally intent on honouring our responsibility on the international scene. Germany’s active role on the Security Council ties in with that responsibility and serves our national interests.   

Retour en haut de page

La lettre diplomatique Bas
  Présentation - Derniers Numéros - Archives - Nos Liens - Contacts - Mentions Légales