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Germany And France Strengthen Bilateral Relations

40th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty

Germany and France want to use observances of the 40th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty on January 22 in Paris and on January 23 in Versailles and Berlin to underscore the excellent state of bilateral relations between the two countries as well as the special importance of the Franco-German relationship for Europe.

The Germans and the French have a reason to celebrate. January 22 marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Elysée Treaty, a friendship treaty concluded by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer in 1963 as a formal expression of postwar reconciliation between the two countries. The 40th anniversary of this treaty is not only an occasion to look back on what has been achieved, it is also an occasion to look ahead to the future. "Franco-German Friendship - In the Service of a Common Responsibility for Europe" is the title of the solemn declaration that will be adopted in the context of the anniversary.

The creation of a European security and defense policy as well as the introduction of a common European currency were the results of Franco-German initiatives. Germany and France have submitted joint proposals to the European Convention on issues relating to EU enlargement as well as reform of EU institutions.

The objective is to continue on the successful path established by the Elysée Treaty, to address the new challenges that have arisen for Europe and the global community, as well as to draw up a program of work for the future. France and Germany want to improve their instruments of cooperation for this purpose. In the future there are to be joint meetings of the two cabinets in connection with the regular Franco-German summits. The first joint Franco-German cabinet meeting, involving all ministers, will be held in Paris on the morning of the 40th anniversary of the treaty and will be chaired jointly by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and President Jacques Chirac. A secretary general for Franco-German cooperation is to be appointed in each country whose task it will be to prepare joint cabinet meetings and coordinate the implementation of joint decisions.

Measures for closer political cooperation in the future

Germany and France want to approve specific measures in the following areas:

Youth, education and sport:Henceforth January 22 is to be observed as 'Franco-German Day'. Germany and France are to become a joint area for the implementation of training and employment measures. This will include efforts to standardize professional requirements and qualifications. There is to be a further expansion of cooperation between French and German universities. Both governments are concerned by the fact that the number of persons learning German and French is decreasing. An intensification of language-teaching programs is planned with a viewing to counteracting this trend.

Culture, media and civil society:Plans have been made to expand journalist exchanges and to ensure the presence of at least one television channel from the respective other country.

Harmonization of laws and legal procedures:In this area there is the intention to engage in systematic consultations with the respective partner country in connection with the planning and formulation of legislation. Harmonization is to be pursued in areas of focal interest to the people of the two countries, e.g. in certain areas of civil and family law such as marriage and divorce.

Economic and financial policy:What will be involved here to an increasing extent in the future will be the formulation of joint positions on key issues such as the financing of pensions, health care, and employment.

Foreign policy:Germany and France want to formulate joint positions on key foreign policy issues. A joint position is to be worked towards on matters dealt with in the UN Security Council.

European policy:The two countries want to join forces to help make Europe a global player.

Civil society exchange

From the outset Germany and France have felt that it is important to go beyond cooperation at the government level. Civil society exchange constitutes the second pillar of Franco-German partnership. De Gaulle and Adenauer viewed youth exchange as a basis for building mutual confidence and long-term friendship. This focus on civil society exchange will continue and is to be expanded with initiatives in the areas of youth, cultural, educational, media, and language-related exchange. Over the long term this could lead to the development of a kind of mutual awareness that would be of significance at the European level.

Anniversary events

The elected representatives of the two countries will hold a joint session of the Bundestag and the Assemblée Nationale in Versailles, lending additional importance to the anniversary observance. The joint cabinet meeting to be held in Paris in the framework of the 80th intergovernmental consultations will be followed by a joint ceremony that is also be attended by representatives of the Bundesrat and the French Senate.

On January 23 the German President will give a ceremonial luncheon in Berlin for political leaders and representatives of organizations involved in Franco-German cooperation. A youth parliament made up of 500 German and French secondary school students has been meeting since January 18 to formulate policy positions and will discuss these with the Chancellor and the President on January 23. The new French Embassy on "Pariser Platz" will be opened the same day. A discussion with journalists will be held at the German Foreign Office on January 24.

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