The signing of the Élysée Treaty (22 January 1963)

The Franco-German Treaty of Friendship

Drawing on the lessons learned from the failure of the Fouchet Plans, General de  Gaulle sought to consolidate and cement Franco-German relations. However, this only compounded the fears of the Community’s smaller countries concerning a dominant Franco-German association. Even within Germany itself, there were many who felt that European unity and the alliance with the United States should not be sacrificed on the altar of Franco-German friendship.

On 14  January 1963, de  Gaulle officially stated his opposition to the United Kingdom’s accession to the Common Market. On 22  January 1963, at the Élysée Palace, France and Germany signed a formal bilateral Treaty strengthening the links between the two countries in terms of security and diplomacy. The Treaty provided for close cooperation between France and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in the areas of foreign affairs, defence, education and youth. While the Élysée Treaty defined an intergovernmental cooperation method (regular meetings at all levels), it did not contain any binding commitments with regard to the harmonisation of international stances. Initially envisaged as a simple written notification of the areas in which the two countries had agreed to renew their cooperation, the Treaty took the form of a very brief framework document (19  articles in all), annexed to which was a joint statement laying down the political tenor of the document.

Moreover, to de Gaulle’s considerable displeasure, the scope of the Franco-German Treaty was limited through the adoption by the German Bundestag of an explanatory preamble which emphasised Atlantic military integration, cooperation with the United States, respect for the European Communities and the need to allow the United Kingdom and the other applicant countries to accede to the Communities.

The agreement on the establishment of the Franco-German Youth Office was signed in Bonn on 5  July 1963. The Élysée Treaty was amended by two protocols, signed on 28  January 1988 on the 25th  anniversary of the signing of the Treaty, which established two new structures: the Franco-German Defence and Security Council and the Franco-German Economic and Financial Council.

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