On 23 November 2005, the day after her election, new Chancellor Angela Merkel meets French President Jacques Chirac in Paris. At the joint press conference held at the Élysée Palace, the two leaders reaffirm the importance of Franco-German friendship.
‘Adieu, mon amour! “I have to go now. But I’ll be thinking about you all the time, Gerd …”’ On 24 November 2005, two days after the election of Christian Democrat leader Angela Merkel as the first female Chancellor in German history, German cartoonist Heiko Sakurai illustrates the French President’s regrets that the Chirac–Schröder duo has come to an end. In the background, the new Chancellor is sitting on a bench waiting patiently to meet President Chirac.
‘Europe. Europe via Cyprus’. On 6 December 2005, in connection with the negotiations on Turkey’s accession to the European Union, cartoonist Pancho illustrates how Germany and France are keen to see Turkey fulfil its obligations concerning Cyprus, particularly the opening of Turkish ports to Cypriot vessels. The two countries are hoping to propose to their European partners that a maximum deadline be set for Turkish authorities to implement the commitments they have made. For German Chancellor Angela Merkel (on the left) and French President Jacques Chirac (on the right), Turkey’s accession to the EU must involve a resolution of the Cypriot question.
On 3 May 2007, French President Jacques Chirac travels to Berlin for a meeting followed by a dinner with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This is Jacques Chirac’s last visit outside France before the end of his term on 16 May. This photo of the French President kissing the German Chancellor’s hand shows the close relationship between Paris and Berlin.
‘EU reform. The two-pronged Polish strategy’. On 13 June 2007, German cartoonist Josef Gottscheber illustrates Poland’s blockage of the process of institutional reform in the European Union. The Kaczynski brothers, one of whom is President of the Republic of Poland and the other Prime Minister, are categorically refusing any system of qualified majority voting, which they believe would favour Germany. One week before the Brussels European Council of 21 and 22 June, the Polish authorities are threatening to wield their veto, if necessary, at the opening of an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) aimed at finalising a ‘simplified treaty’. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, depicted as a station master, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy do not hide their irritation at the obstruction strategy employed by the Kaczynski brothers.
On 11 July 2008, Dutch cartoonist Willem illustrates the tensions between France and Germany over President Sarkozy’s initiative to create a Union for the Mediterranean. The initial plan, which aimed to link only those countries bordering on the Mediterranean, was rejected by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who demanded that the entire European Union should be involved. On 13 July, the Union for the Mediterranean is officially launched in Paris at a ceremony attended by 43 Heads of State. To the right of Nicolas Sarkozy (with his finger in the air), we can see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the Libyan Head of State, Colonel Gaddafi (with his back turned), is opposed to the plan. In the background, the German Chancellor keeps her distance from the event and observes the actions of her French partner with suspicion.
‘Sarkozy’s Union for the Mediterranean’. On 14 July 2008, during the French Presidency of the European Union, German cartoonist Wolfgang Horsch illustrates the suspicion of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso concerning French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to set up a Union for the Mediterranean. This union would be designed to strengthen the partnership between the Member States of the European Union and the other countries in the Mediterranean basin.
‘And what’s the point of me being here?!’ On 24 October 2008, French cartoonist Pinel illustrates the irritation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel at French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s race for European leadership. Sarkozy’s political activism at European level is proving to be a source of annoyance for Berlin and is causing a worsening of relations between the Chancellor and the French President.
On 8 July 2009, at a working session during the G8 Summit held in L’Aquila, in Italy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. At this summit of the world’s eight leading industrialised countries (the United States, Japan, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Russia), accompanied by the major emerging countries in the G5 (China, India, South Africa, Brazil and Mexico), negotiations focus on tackling climate change, the attitude to Iran, development aid and the economic and financial crisis.
‘… So cute! …and they don’t get in the way of the main attraction!’ On 21 November 2009, German cartoonist Horst Haitzinger takes an ironic look at the role that the Franco-German duo intends to play on the European stage and criticises the controversial appointments of Herman Van Rompuy as President of the European Union and Catherine Ashton as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy welcome the new situation created by this choice of low-profile figures lacking in charisma and public recognition — they are depicted as dwarves who fade into obscurity before the omnipresence of the Franco-German duo. The Franco-German pair are shown admiring the two huge self-portraits dedicated to them — on the left, French President Sarkozy is illustrated as Emperor Napoleon, while German Chancellor Merkel is portrayed as the great Germania.
At the Franco-German Council of Ministers held in Paris on 4 February 2010, President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel unveil the roadmap for the next ten years of bilateral cooperation between the two countries. This is the first joint Council of Ministers since the establishment of the new German Government and the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.
‘For the European support fund, please … Euro: Hey! I'm still moving!’ On 12 May 2010, French cartoonist Plantu illustrates the efforts being made by France and Germany to save the single European currency. Several commentators are already announcing the death of the euro. But three days earlier, on 9 May 2010, the 27 Member States of the European Union approved the creation of a European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), a European aid fund to maintain financial stability on the continent by providing financial assistance to countries in the euro zone experiencing economic difficulties. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, portrayed as two altar servers, are taking the collection at the funeral mass for the euro.
‘Sarkozy having to cling to Germany. Yes to Franco-German friendship, but de Gaulle didn’t get up close and personal with Adenauer!’ On 15 December 2010, French cartoonist Cabu paints an ironic picture of the bilateral relationship between President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Franco-German duo is being tested by Sarkozy’s expansive manner, which the Germans find bewildering. The Chancellor seems somewhat irritated by the ‘rough and ready’ style of the French Head of State and his tendency towards self-promotion.
‘Sarkozy supports Angela. YES! We’re supporting the euro with all our might!’ On 22 December 2010, French cartoonist Cabu paints an ironic picture of the efforts of French President Nicolas Sarkozy (on the right) to support his German partner in rescuing the euro zone. But it seems that the future of the euro rests mainly on the shoulders of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (on the left).
‘Stable tandem.’ On 21 January 2011, German cartoonist Nik Ebert illustrates the joint action by the Franco-German tandem to support European integration and rescue the euro. One week later, on 27 January, at the Davos World Economic Forum, French President Nicolas Sarkozy reaffirms that ‘… both [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel and myself, we will by no means abandon the euro. By no means! […] The euro is Europe. Europe has meant 60 years of peace on our continent. Therefore we will never let the euro go or be destroyed.’
‘I don’t know if it suits everyone!’ On 24 February 2011, French cartoonist Frédéric Deligne paints an ironic picture of the ‘competitiveness pact’ proposed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which aims to implement ambitious structural reforms in the economies of the euro zone countries. Germany, which sees itself as the main contributor to the European bailout plans, wants the more fragile states in the euro zone to commit to thorough economic reforms. Backed up by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Germany now needs to convince the other countries in the euro zone.
‘And who’s she? It’s for Europe!’ On 15 August 2011, French cartoonist Plantu paints an ironic picture of the establishment of closer relations between France and Germany to combat the crisis in the euro zone. A series of consultations are held between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a bid to find solutions to the financial and economic crisis affecting the European Union. Carla Bruni (on the right), the pregnant wife of President Sarkozy, is wondering about the faithfulness of her husband.
‘EFSF’. On 29 October 2011, the German cartoonist Oliver Sebel illustrates the efforts made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to secure an agreement with private banks concerning Greece. Two days earlier, a European summit for the euro area resulted in a series of measures to resolve the crisis, including a 50 % reduction on Greek debt with private creditors and the strengthening of the European Financial Stability Facility, increasing its effective capacity to €1 000 billion. One of the mechanisms provided involves creating one or more special funds to attract external private or public investors, such as emerging countries. From left to right, the main European leaders support the Franco-German initiative to access the private banks’ safe: Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, armed with a drill, is standing alongside Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker, who is pushing two gas canisters, while José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, is holding a blowtorch.
‘Help! Let me go! You’re safe! How ungrateful … On 4 November 2011, the Dutch cartoonist Willem paints an ironic picture of the Franco-German duo’s attempt to bail out Greece. Given the scale of the Greek public debt crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel (on the left) and President Sarkozy (on the right) are determined to apply the Greek bailout plan, which is under threat following the surprise announcement by Greek Prime Minister Georges Papandreou (shown here drowning) to put it to a referendum.
On 12 December 2011, French cartoonist Coco (Corine Rey) paints a sombre portrait of the Franco-German duo Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, who are trying as best they can to deal with the debt crisis rocking the euro zone. In driving rain, the German Chancellor is holding an umbrella shaped like the euro symbol, which seems to offer scant protection, while the French President is trying to shelter under the protective arm of his German partner.
‘The Spaniard is refusing to reduce his deficit as promised, the Greek is going to default, the Italian is grumbling, the Irishman wants a referendum and the Dutchman isn’t looking so proud any more … Angela, it’s not going to be so easy to ratify the new EUROPEAN TREATY. ¡Pobre de mi!’ On 10 March 2012, French cartoonist Michel Iturria paints an ironic picture of the difficult ratification of the new European budget pact, officially known as the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance. On 2 March, at a summit in Brussels, 25 European Union countries sign this treaty which will impose strict budgetary discipline in a bid to combat the debt crisis in the euro zone more effectively. German Chancellor Angela Merkel (on the left) and French President Nicolas Sarkozy (centre), shown in traditional Bavarian costume, are strong advocates of the new treaty and are irritated at the difficulties in ratifying it. The group of three people is composed from left to right of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.
‘An underestimated centrifugal force’. On 25 April 2012, German cartoonist Pepsch Gottscheber illustrates the impact of austerity policies on the member countries of the euro zone and paints an ironic picture of the attitude of French President Nicolas Sarkozy (on the left) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the main advocates of these policies of budgetary rigour and discipline.
‘EUROSHOP MERKozy. It’s as if it were a part of me …’ On 7 May 2012, following the French presidential elections that resulted in a victory for François Hollande, German cartoonist Horst Haitzinger illustrates the end of the Franco-German duo Sarkozy–Merkel. During the 2012 presidential campaign, the German Chancellor had publicly supported Nicolas Sarkozy over candidate François Hollande, so Sarkozy’s defeat on 6 May was not seen as a welcome development for the German partner.
‘HALLO! I’m taking the place of the old driver, who’s lost his licence!’ On 9 May 2012, French cartoonist Cabu paints an ironic picture of the new Merkel–Hollande duo and the question of the European budget pact. Three days earlier, on 6 May, François Hollande was the victor in the presidential election against outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy. Throughout the presidential campaign, candidate Hollande emphasised that he wanted to renegotiate the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel remains opposed to the idea of renegotiation. Following the election of François Hollande, are Paris and Bonn willing to relax their positions and work in favour of Franco-German friendship?
On 15 May 2012, newly elected French President François Hollande makes his first foreign visit to Berlin. The French President, who is highly critical of the austerity policy advocated by Germany, is received by German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a working dinner.
‘Austerity! Growth!’ On 15 May 2012, the Dutch cartoonist Willem illustrates the differences of opinion between France and Germany on how best to resolve the economic and financial crisis in the European Union. German Chancellor Angela Merkel (on the left) is in favour of a policy of austerity and rigour and backs the idea of budgetary discipline, while French President François Hollande advocates a policy of growth to help the EU overcome the crisis.
‘No credit, Herr Hollande. Not for Greece and not for France either.’ On 16 May 2012, the day after the first meeting between President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel in Berlin, French cartoonist Delize illustrates the French President’s desire to reopen negotiations on the European pact for budgetary discipline in order to incorporate measures to stimulate growth. The French plan clashes with the policy of monetary orthodoxy advocated by Chancellor Merkel, who is refusing to pool part of Europe’s debt by issuing Eurobonds, which would cut costs by generating economies of scale. For Merkel, the situation is clear: there is no question of Germany paying for the continent’s spendthrift countries, whether Greece or France.
‘Full steam ahead for Europe. Pleased to meet you. Likewise!’ On 16 May 2012, German cartoonist Thomas Plaßmann illustrates the differences of opinion that look set to surface between the new Franco-German duo Hollande and Merkel over European issues. As soon as he took up office on 15 May, the new French President met Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin for a first exchange of views. The two Heads of State disagree on many points, particularly the budget pact, which Paris wishes to renegotiate.
‘Growth. Austerity’. On 22 May 2012, on the eve of the Brussels European Council that will focus on how to tackle the crisis in the euro zone, French cartoonist Nicolas Vadot illustrates two opposing visions. French President François Hollande, taking part in his first European Summit, is calling for measures to stimulate growth, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in favour of a policy of austerity and rigour. The two viewpoints seem to be irreconcilable.
‘Hollande is on the same wavelength as Obama when it comes to growth. But he won’t be laughing when he comes back to Berlin.’ On 23 May 2012, French cartoonist René Pétillon illustrates the tense relations between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande over how to tackle the crisis in the euro zone. Paris wants to stimulate growth, while Berlin is advocating a policy of budgetary austerity and rigour. The Chancellor therefore takes a very negative view of the meeting on 18 May between the French President and US President Barack Obama, during which François Hollande emphasised the convergence between the United States and France for a policy to fuel growth.
‘ONE TWO! ONE TWO! PssT! Eurobonds. E Presidency.’ On 24 May 2012, French cartoonist Michel Iturria illustrates the deep differences between Paris and Berlin on how to resolve the debt crisis in the euro zone. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly advocates restoring order to public finance and imposing strict budgetary rigour in the European countries experiencing difficulties (particularly Greece and Spain, which are having to ‘keep in step’), while French President Hollande is in favour of the introduction of Eurobonds, a system which involves pooling the debt of European states. Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, is standing next to the French President.
‘On the brink of the Scream’. On 25 May 2012, taking inspiration from the expressionist painting ‘The Scream’ by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, German cartoonist Karl-Heinz Schoenfeld offers an ironic depiction of the existential crisis suffered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she sees the solution put forward by French President François Hollande — eurobonds — to combat the crisis in the euro zone. Germany is strongly opposed to this concept, which involves pooling part of the debt held by the countries of Europe to enable them all to borrow at the same rate through the issuing of eurobonds. For the Chancellor, the priorities are to strengthen competitiveness, restore order to public finance in the countries of Europe and observe strict budgetary rigour.
‘Iannis Tuladanlos. You’ll see, it’s the first 30 years that are the most difficult! After that, you’ll get used to it!’ On 25 May 2012, French cartoonist Plantu takes an ironic look at the alleged suggestion by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that a referendum be held in Greece on whether or not the country should stay in the euro zone. Despite Berlin’s denials, this idea prompts an outcry among Greek political parties. On the left, new French President François Hollande is blushing and seems rather embarrassed at the fate of Greece, while the German Chancellor, surrounded by Brussels Eurocrats, is already getting ready to say goodbye to the Greeks (on the right on the iceberg).
‘At the Café de l’Europe. Don’t accept any luncheon vouchers or eurobonds. NO CREDIT.’ On 27 June 2012, French cartoonist Cabu illustrates the opposition of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the eurobond plan supported by French President François Hollande. Germany is against any idea of pooling debt and insists on budgetary rigour as a prerequisite to financial solidarity.
On 27 June 2012, French President François Hollande welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the Élysée Palace to prepare for the Brussels European Council due to be held the following day that will focus on how to tackle the euro zone crisis.
‘Here’s the bill! Er … we’re just popping out for a cigarette …!’ On 4 July 2012, German cartoonist Klaus Stuttmann illustrates the extent of the financial and economic crisis in the European Union, which is putting Community solidarity to the test. On the right, French President François Hollande leaves the table, while a vulture brings the bill to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The EU is facing a crisis which is threatening both the survival of the single currency and the economic stability of Germany. The Chancellor is opposed to the plan to pool sovereign debt, supported by President Hollande, as Germany is already one of the biggest financial contributors to the various European bailout plans.
‘We said go right! I’m just indicating left… I find it reassuring.’ On 18 July 2012, as debates are held on the ratification of the European budgetary treaty, French cartoonist Aurélien Froment illustrates the differences of opinion between France and Germany on the most effective policies to pursue to overcome the crisis in the euro zone. French President François Hollande, a strong advocate of growth in Europe, clashes with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is favour of a policy of economic rigour. This treaty, negotiated in the midst of the financial and economic crisis, seeks to restore stability to public finance in the Member States of the euro zone and imposes strict recovery policies.
On 22 September 2012, on the anniversary of the address given by General de Gaulle to German youth in 1962, French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel officially launch the Franco-German Year in Ludwigsburg. Throughout the year 2012 and up to July 2013, the two countries celebrate 50 years of Franco-German cooperation.
Discussions between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande at the European Council on 18 and 19 October 2012 in Brussels. The European Summit was the scene of heated debate between the European leaders, particularly over the question of banking supervision and control of national budgets.
‘50 years of Franco-German friendship! It’s perfect weather for it!’ On 22 January 2013, as celebrations are held to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty, German cartoonist Klaus Stuttmann offers an ironic depiction of the cooling of Franco-German relations. From left to right: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande celebrate 50 years of Franco-German friendship.
On 21 and 22 January 2013, French President François Hollande travels to Berlin to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. On 22 January, the two leaders shake hands in front of the historic photo of the signatories of the 1963 Élysée Treaty, President Charles de Gaulle and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.
‘Close neighbours. To our continued good friendship!’ On 23 January 2013, as celebrations are held in France and Germany to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty, German cartoonist Jürgen Tomicek illustrates the unenviable position of the Franco-German duo, which is facing the dangers of the crisis in the euro zone.
‘Revitalisation. This engine dates from Adenauer’s era! De Gaulle’s!’ On 23 January 2013, on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty, German cartoonist Burkhard Mohr paints an ironic picture of the somewhat inconclusive attempts of French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to restart the motor of Franco-German cooperation.
‘Golden wedding celebration in Berlin. “Let me lead — you don’t have a firm enough hand!“’ On 23 January 2013, in connection with the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty, French cartoonist Kiro paints an ironic picture of leadership within the Franco-German duo and illustrates the tension between Bonn and Paris on the rescue plan for the euro zone. From left to right: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande.