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Franco-German Council of Ministers

France and Germany stand united

German Federal Chancellor Merkel, French President Hollande and several cabinet members have met in Berlin for the Franco-German Council of Ministers. Both countries had come closer together in the last three months, said Merkel. This was reflected in the agenda.

German Federal Chancellor Merkel, French President Hollande and ministers of Germany and France in the Federal Chancellery Franco-German Council of Ministers: Exchange among friends Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

In the joint press conference, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and President François Hollande pointed out the challenges in recent months: the crash of the Germanwings plane in southern France and the events around "Charlie Hebdo".

Merkel also made mention of the resolute demonstration for the freedom of expression, democracy and the fight against any kind of terrorism. "In doing so, we could mutually show how we deal with the challenges of our time", she explained.

The Chancellor not only explicitly thanked the French government, but above all the people in the region who are providing aid on site after the plane crash and are assisting families. They are "exhibiting the Franco-German friendship in an incredible and inimitable fashion", said Merkel.

For more growth and employment

The discussion focussed on bilateral projects to deepen the Franco-German partnership and for the good of the European Union as a whole.

Bold partners agreed to discuss reforms and investments they make at a national level. The aim is to strengthen the competitiveness of their national economies. In this way, Germany and France wish to contribute to the European efforts for growth, competitiveness, investment and employment in connection with sound public finances.

The individual focal points of the discussions were:

Foreign and defence policy

With regard to the Ukraine crisis, both sides have been working particularly closely together in recent months. They will continue this intensive cooperation in order to achieve a lasting and peaceful solution to the crisis.

Both governments will work towards strengthening and deepening the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the European Union. The mutual involvement in Mali will be followed by further initiatives to provide increased assistance to African partners in security issues, in particular with the initiative "Train and Equip".

The existing cooperation in space will be extended to the area of new generation satellite observation capabilities. An agreement on the access of both sides to the systems of the respective other side will be signed by June. On the basis of this agreement, the joint launch of a satellite will be conducted to improve overall system performance.

In addition, France and Germany, together with Italy, confirmed their intent to cooperate in developing a new generation of European drones in the period 2020–2025. After signing a technical agreement, an initial study on the specification of the system is planned during the course of 2015.

Climate

With regard to the International Climate Conference in Paris at the end of 2015, both countries intend on working toward an ambitious and legally binding arrangement, in which it is intended that all countries commit to actions that would limit global warming to two degrees Celsius by the end of the century. The Petersberg Climate Dialogue, which will take place with Federal Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande on 19 May in Berlin, and the G7 Summit in Elmau this June should provide powerful impulses for this.

Economy and finance

France and Germany would like to realise the potential of the internal market and promote investments in Europe to increase the contribution of European policy to growth and employment. In this connection, they call into memory the three pillars mentioned in the EU Annual Growth Survey, i.e. investment, structural reforms and growth-oriented fiscal consolidation. They support, in particular, the investment campaign of the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. They have resolved to establish mutual collaborations in the core areas of industry, energy and information technology.

Both governments will endeavour to conclude an ambitious, global arrangement that is beneficial for both sides, on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) by the end of 2015. They reaffirm their commitment to transparency in trade negotiations.

Both countries want to contribute to the establishment of a European energy union by way of concrete cooperation projects in the areas of renewable energy, electricity distribution networks and cross-border collaboration. This should be complemented by joint activities in research, particularly in the area of electricity storage.

The cultural and creative industries are developing rapidly and already make up 4% of the European GDP. In this context, Merkel and Hollande emphasized that copyright must be promoted and maintained. In doing so, technological innovations and developments in economic models and user behaviour are to be taken into account. France and Germany support the channel "Arte" in its efforts to increase the distribution of its cultural programmes in Europe with the help of multilingualism and EU support.

Research and higher education

Both governments will continue to develop their cooperation in the areas of energy and IT -security as well as in the humanities and social sciences. They are in favour of developing the Franco-German University and express their intent to increase its attractiveness. The Franco-German research centre for the social sciences, Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin, will receive a permanent legal form that takes into account its bi-national character.

Employment and labour mobility

In the area of employment, existing cooperations between the two public employment services should be intensified. A joint initiative for skilled labour is planned for this autumn.

In early June, the second Franco-German Ministerial Council meeting on cross-border cooperation will be held in Metz in France to improve the integration of the labour markets in border areas.

Security and social cohesion

On 11 January in Paris, after the attack on the editors of the magazine "Charlie Hebdo", both governments already made it clear that they reject any form of intolerance and reaffirmed this commitment on Tuesday.

The Minister President of Saarland, Annegret Kramp Karrenbauer, and the former French Prime Minister, Jean Marc Ayrault, will work up bilateral projects to promote integration in our societies. On the German side, this process will be accompanied by the Federal Government Commissioner for Integration, Aydan Özoguz.

Germany and France are committed to soon establishing a European system of Passenger Name Records (PNR), which should include a modern privacy policy. The external border controls should be strengthened and modernized. In the fight against terrorism, both countries support the assessment of an amendment to the Schengen Borders Code — in those places where it is necessary, to allow permanent controls. They will take every measure to prevent the departure of terrorist fighters EU-wide, and to monitor their possible return to the EU.

Germany and France also strive for crucial initiatives to combat the financing of terrorism and the illegal distribution of firearms and to remove illegal content from the Internet that glorifies terrorism or incites hatred and violence.

To combat illegal immigration into the Schengen area, the Ministers of the Interior will continue to closely coordinate with each other and take new initiatives. They will also give thought to how the border agency "Frontex" can be strengthened.

Declarations, agreements, statutes

During the Franco-German Council of Ministers, declarations were issued by the respective departmental ministers on the following subjects:

  • Energy
  • "Economic Schengen", digital agenda and investment projects
  • Copyright

The following agreements and statutes were signed:

  • Additional agreement amending the Double Taxation Agreement
  • Equivalency agreement on the mutual recognition of university degrees
  • The new statutes of the Adenauer-de Gaulle Prize
  • The new statutes of the Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin

The Franco-German Councils of Ministers are joint discussions between the governments of both countries. They take place either in full format with all cabinet members or focus on specific topics with the attendance of the respectively competent departments. In 2003, they replaced the Franco-German Summit that had usually taken place until then. The Franco-German Councils of Ministers are an expression of the special intensity of the cooperation between both countries and governments that has developed in the post-war period and has become one of the motors of the European agreement process. The deep mutual trust, the dense network of contacts in civil society as well as the willingness and ability to reach common positions even in difficult issues are outstanding hallmarks of the "couple franco-allemand", i.e. the Franco-German duo.

Mar 31, 2015