With a new German government now in power, the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union starting on 1 January 2022, and the upcoming presidential and legislative elections in France, the Franco-German partnership has entered a period of major political upheaval. Europe standing currently at an historical crossroads, how can France and Germany prepare a joint action plan for the post-election period? On 13 and 14 December, more than 50 high-ranked decision-makers from both countries met at the Parisez Platz Dialogue 2021 to discuss various topics related to Franco-German cooperation.
The participants agreed that, although many topics remain to be addressed, the ‘Koalitionsvertrag’ of the new German government is an ambitious and optimistic text for European cooperation. On the French side, the degree and type of collaboration between the two countries will highly depend on the results of the upcoming presidential elections. In the meantime, the French Presidency of the Council is an opportunity to obtain lasting results on the European level, notably by using the political support offered by the new German government. The risk exists, however, that this presidency will be used chiefly to promote the French political agenda ahead of the coming presidential elections.
On many issues, the views of Berlin and Paris converge; both countries sharing common goals and solutions. For example, participants agreed that the climate is a global public good—it must be protected through forward-looking investment and cooperation, both within Europe and abroad. In tackling climate change, the social impact that green transition will have on the citizens has to be considered. Social acceptability must be the foundation of climate action. This transition has to be fair or will not happen at all. Participants also insisted on the fact that democracy in France and Germany should be strengthened—both through increased citizen participation in parties and through increased media literacy. This is how undemocratic extremism in France and Germany can be combatted.
Whether regarding arms exports, military operations abroad or the role of new technologies in security and defence, clear divergences remain between France and Germany. Nonetheless, both countries agree that they must assume their role on the international stage.
The concluding public discussion “Franco-German to-dos: What is the agenda for the post-election period?” was an opportunity to take stock of the discussions and to draw up a roadmap for Franco-German cooperation for the upcoming months. You can watch the public discussion here: