‘Yugoslavia: “There’s a smell of burning!” “Maybe we should go and take a look …” “There’s no rush!” “Who’ll pay for the water?” “And the overtime?” “Stop pushing!”’ In 1991, French cartoonist Georges Million portrays the hesitations and vain efforts of European diplomacy to resolve the Balkans conflict. At the top of the fire engine ladder, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl holds a fire hose, while French President François Mitterrand tries to start the engine with a crank.
'Maastricht. Political union'. On 9 December 1991, German cartoonist Walter Hanel illustrates the determination of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President François Mitterrand to use the negotiations on the revision of the European Treaties to establish a European political union, while British Prime Minister John Major is less than enthusiastic.
‘Maastricht open-air swimming pool: “Follow me! Let us know if there’s any water in the pool!”’ On 9 December 1991, on the eve of the Maastricht European Council, German cartoonist Horst Haitzinger takes an ironic look at the commitment (‘Follow me!’) of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and to the Treaty on European Union. French President François Mitterrand, second in line, seems more reluctant to take the plunge (‘Let us know if there’s any water in the pool!’), while British Prime Minister John Major seems to be about to climb down from the diving board.
‘Password? Maastricht! How did you manage to come up with that?’ On 21 May 1992, at the 59th Franco-German summit in La Rochelle, French cartoonist Plantu illustrates the decision taken by President François Mitterrand and Chancellor Helmut Kohl to create a joint army with a European vocation.
‘Eurocorps’. On 22 May 1992, as the 59th Franco-German summit is held in La Rochelle, German cartoonist Felix Mussil illustrates the decision taken by President François Mitterrand (on the right) and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (on the left) to set up the Eurocorps, a Franco-German army corps with a European vocation. In the background, NATO observes this new Franco-German toy with interest.
On 5 September 1992, German cartoonist Walter Hanel illustrates the issues surrounding the referendum to be held that month in France for the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty. The French voter seems to be bearing the entire burden of the future of the European integration process. The Franco-German duo Mitterrand and Kohl, as well as the other European partners clutching the bull, are concerned at the uncertain outcome of the French vote. A ‘No’ vote would be a bitter blow for the future of Europe.
‘YES. “If I may, Mr President, I’m sorry, forgive me, excuse me, but the answer is no!”’ On 5 September 1992, in the lead-up to the referendum on the ratification of the Treaty of Maastricht, French cartoonist Plantu illustrates the opposition of Philippe Séguin, former Minister for Social Affairs and Employment (1986–1988) and a fervent Gaullist, to the Treaty. Two days earlier, on 3 September, in the main lecture hall at the Sorbonne, a televised debate was held between French President François Mitterrand, a supporter of the Treaty, and Philippe Séguin, leader of the ‘no’ campaign. Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who took part in this broadcast via a live link-up from Bonn, emphasised the importance of the friendship between Germany and France and the efforts made by the two countries to promote further political and economic unification in Europe. From left to right: The Franco-German duo Kohl and Mitterrand must deal with the opposition of Philippe Séguin.
On 26 September 1992, five days after the narrow victory of the ‘yes’ supporters in the French referendum on the ratification of the Treaty of Maastricht, German cartoonist Jürgen von Tomeï illustrates the efforts made by French President François Mitterrand (on the left) and Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl (on the right) to keep the ‘Maastricht’ edifice from collapsing. The harsh criticism of the Treaty by British Prime Minister John Major (depicted holding a hammer) and the Danish refusal to ratify the text have severely weakened the construction.
On 30 September 1992, as debates are held over the ratification of the Treaty of Maastricht, French cartoonist Renald Luzier, also known as ‘Luz’, deplores the dangers of a two-speed Europe. For opponents of the text, the Treaty of Maastricht and the establishment of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) threaten to create glaring differences between the Member States. The conditions for economic convergence and the need to introduce a strict economic adjustment plan could lead to the emergence of a two-speed Europe. Much of the criticism levelled by the Treaty’s opponents involves fears of German hegemony in Europe — many French people are concerned that the Europe of Maastricht should become a ‘German Europe’. On the right: Helmut Kohl, Chancellor of an economically strong Germany, is taking the lead within the Franco-German duo and in Europe. Luz also alludes to the illness of President Mitterrand (shown in a wheelchair), which was made public on 16 September 1992.
‘This is the answering machine of Slobodan Milosevic. Please leave your threat after the beep. Thank you.’ On 8 January 1993, cartoonist Pancho illustrates the impotence of the international community in the face of the deadly conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Negotiations with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to cease hostilities have ended in failure. From left to right: US President George H. W. Bush, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, French President François Mitterrand and British Prime Minister John Major.
‘Happy birthday, Konrad! Thanks, Charles!’ On 23 January 1993, French cartoonist Plantu illustrates the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty. French President François Mitterrand (on the left) wishes German Chancellor Helmut Kohl a happy birthday. The two leaders call each other by the names of their illustrious predecessors who signed the treaty in 1963. The power relationship between the two countries has changed significantly over the past 30 years, as shown by the imposing stature of the German Chancellor, demonstrating the renewed influence of a reunified Germany on the international and European stage.
‘The Brussels European Summit. “Right! … What are we talking about? … I don’t know, I thought you’d prepared something?! …”’ On 30 October 1993, on the eve of the entry into force of the Treaty of Maastricht, French cartoonist Plantu illustrates the difficult economic recovery of an EU that is wracked by unemployment and recession. The previous day, at the Brussels Extraordinary European Council, Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission, expressed his discouragement at the economic crisis tormenting Europe. Can the Franco-German duo Kohl and Mitterrand still play a driving role to give new impetus to the European integration process?
‘Had we thought about sharing out all the European institutions? Excuse me … Where might I find the headquarters of the European employment agency?’ On 3 November 1993, French cartoonist Pierre Potus gives an ironic depiction of the decision to make Frankfurt the seat of the European Central Bank and illustrates the fine gesture of French President François Mitterrand (centre), who personally gives his agreement on this location to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (on the left). But the people of Europe are more worried about their professional future and are speculating on European initiatives for employment.
‘Distribution of weight’. On 25 March 1994, ten years after Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President François Mitterrand held hands in a gesture of friendship in Verdun in September 1984, German cartoonist Walter Hanel illustrates the changing power relationship within the Franco-German duo. While in 1984 France was the stronger partner in this relationship (on the left, François Mitterrand stands taller than the diminutive Chancellor Kohl), things have changed a great deal by 1994. The economic powerhouse that is the unified Germany has taken the place of the French partner in the Franco-German duo and has consolidated its role on the international stage, particularly in view of the future EU enlargement to include Austria and the Scandinavian countries and in relations with the Russian Federation under leader Boris Yeltsin.
Produced in 1996 by the European Parliament, this film clip shows images dedicated respectively to the meeting in Verdun, on 22 September 1984, between François Mitterrand, President of the French Republic, and Helmut Kohl, German Chancellor, who stand in silent remembrance before the tombs of the German and French soldiers who fell on the battlefield in the First World War; to the military procession of 14 July 1984 on the Champs-Élysées in Paris in the presence, in particular, of François Mitterrand, Édouard Balladur, French Prime Minister, Helmut Kohl, Felipe González, Spanish Prime Minister, Jacques Santer, Luxembourg Prime Minister, and Jean-Luc Dehaene, Belgian Prime Minister; and, finally, to the inauguration, on 5 November 1993, in Strasbourg, of the Eurocorps in the presence, in particular, of François Léotard, French Defence Minister, Volker Rühe, German Defence Minister, and Leo Delcroix, Belgian Defence Minister.
‘Try to keep a low profile if you can …’ On 14 July 1994, cartoonist Pancho alludes to the participation of 200 German soldiers from the Eurocorps in the traditional military parade held on the Champs-Élysées to mark French national day. For the first time since the end of the Second World War, German soldiers are to parade in France as a sign of Franco-German reconciliation within a European framework. A total of almost 800 troops from five countries (France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg) in around a hundred armoured vehicles are to take part. The participation of the Eurocorps demonstrates the political commitment of Europe’s leaders to work for the establishment of a common defence.
On 30 November 1994, following the 64th Franco-German summit in Bonn, President François Mitterrand and Chancellor Helmut Kohl answer journalists’ questions and give an overview of their bilateral discussions, which focused on the development of the situation in the former Yugoslavia, particularly in Bosnia, and the preparations for the NATO Summit (1–2 December), the CSCE Summit in Budapest (5–7 December) and the Essen European Council (9–10 December).
‘Vive le Président! Here’s hoping that Chirac doesn’t want a different bike!’ On 9 May 1995, two days after Jacques Chirac is elected President of the French Republic, German cartoonist Hans-Jürgen Starke paints an ironic picture of the future of the Franco-German tandem. As his new partner takes to the stage, Chancellor Helmut Kohl speculates on the new President’s desire to pursue Franco-German cooperation in the area of European integration.
‘Europe. Let’s hope that the new engine works as well as the old one!’ On 19 May 1995, German cartoonist Luff (Rolf Henn) illustrates the speculation over the driving role that could be played by the new Franco-German duo Chirac and Kohl in the European integration process, particularly in the light of the joint action taken by Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand for almost 12 years.
On 16 November 1995, three days after the first Franco-German seminar for Foreign Ministers in Paris on deepening cooperation in foreign and European policy, German cartoonist Karl-Heinz Schoenfeld illustrates the driving role of the Franco-German duo in the establishment of Economic and Monetary Union. At the centre of the cartoon, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl are guiding the European countries towards Monetary Union.
‘Monetary union 1999. Unrest. Strikes.’ On 9 December 1995, in connection with the issues surrounding monetary union, German cartoonist Walter Hanel paints an ironic picture of the Franco-German duo and particularly highlights the poor health of the French partner. While Chancellor Kohl’s Germany is preparing for the timetable for the establishment of a single currency, France is facing growing social unrest and mass strikes in the civil service and public services that are paralysing the country. On the left, President Jacques Chirac bears the scars (crutches and bandages) of the social conflict in France.
‘First aid workers’. On 11 December 1995, a few days after the Franco-German summit in Baden-Baden, Austrian cartoonist Ironimus (Gustav Peichl) offers an ironic depiction of the joint action of French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to rescue a Europe that is suffering and revive the European integration process. On 7 December, the two men sent a joint letter to the leaders of the European Union Member States setting out the objectives of the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference (proposal to introduce a clause in the Treaty of Maastricht providing for enhanced cooperation for states keen to step up the process of policy integration).
‘A happy “euro” couple. I’ve heard that you’re a fan of sumo wrestling! … Me too! …’ On 4 December 1996, a few days before the Dublin European Council, French cartoonist Slim illustrates the difficult negotiations between German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (on the left) and French President Jacques Chirac (on the right) over the establishment of the future single currency. For Berlin, the euro needs to be created under Germany’s terms and should be as strong as the Deutschmark.
‘Euro’. On 14 December 1996, in the French daily newspaper Le Monde, German cartoonist Rainer Hachfeld illustrates the important role played by the Franco-German duo in the creation of the future European currency. From left to right: Chancellor Helmut Kohl and President Jacques Chirac watch over the cradle of the euro. In the background, British Prime Minister John Major observes the scene. The British political class is deeply divided over the question of the country’s possible adoption of the single European currency, which is due to be introduced on 1 January 1999.
‘Stability pact. Stop, Helmut! It’ll give you cramp!’ On 15 December 1996, following the Dublin European Summit, French cartoonist Plantu illustrates the difficult negotiations between President Jacques Chirac (on the left) and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (on the right) over the final details of the Stability and Growth Pact. This pact, which has been adopted by the 15 Heads of State or Government, sets the rules for budgetary discipline that the countries in the euro zone will need to observe after the introduction of the single currency in January 1999. Chancellor Kohl, depicted as Moses returning from Mount Sinai, is holding aloft the tablet inscribed with the regulations of the Stability Pact to emphasise their importance.
‘You can look, but you can’t touch!’ On 18 January 1997, cartoonist Pancho paints an ironic picture of cooperation between France and Germany ahead of the preparations for the introduction of the European single currency in January 1999, and particularly emphasises the importance of the ‘euro’ for German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (on the right). On the left, French President Jacques Chirac is scolded by his German partner for trying to touch a euro coin.
‘EUROPE’. On 7 April 1997, as the European Union foreign ministers meet in Noordwijk, cartoonist Willem illustrates the opposition between France and Germany on the reform of the European institutions and paints an ironic picture of the proposal by French President Jacques Chirac (on the left) to give greater influence to the large countries within an enlarged European Union. On the right, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the other European partners are concerned at the French proposal.
‘EU reform. The 15 brake pedals are working perfectly, but where on earth is the accelerator?!!’ On 26 May 1997, German cartoonist Klauss Stuttmann takes an ironic look at the slow progress and deadlocks in the reform of the European Union. For British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Europe of 15 has broken down and is no longer making any headway, to the despair of the Franco-German duo, which sees itself as the driving force of European integration. In the front row, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President Jacques Chirac are looking somewhat dejected.
‘Franco-German summit. Stability pact. Are you sure you’re holding tight, mon ami?’ On 14 June 1997, following the ninth Franco-German summit, held this time at Futuroscope in Poitiers, German cartoonist Jürgen Tomicek illustrates the lack of understanding between Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who seems to be bearing the entire weight of the stability pact on his shoulders, and his French partner, represented by President Jacques Chirac, who is taking a somewhat casual attitude to the requirements of the pact. The stability pact is an instrument designed to enable the countries in the euro zone to coordinate their national budgetary policies more effectively and to avoid the emergence of excessive public deficits.
On 19 September 1997, French President Jacques Chirac (on the left) meets Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl at the 70th Franco-German summit, held at the Belvedere Palace in Weimar. At this meeting, the two leaders reaffirm their shared commitment to establishing the euro on the date and according to the criteria laid down in the Maastricht Treaty.
On 12 March 1998, the first meeting of the European Conference is held in London, marking the beginning of a new era of European cooperation. This annual European Conference between the Heads of State or Government of the EU Member States and candidate countries is intended to be a multilateral forum for political cooperation to address matters of public interest and develop cooperation in the fields of the CFSP, justice and home affairs and economic and regional cooperation. The photo shows Jacques Chirac, French President (on the right), welcoming Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl. In the background, Romano Prodi, President of the Italian Council of Ministers.
‘European Central Bank. Director’s floor. Commotion over the upper echelons.’ On 22 April 1998, German cartoonist Bernd Bruns paints an ironic picture of tensions between France and Germany over the appointment of the future President of the European Central Bank, based in Frankfurt. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl is keen to have a Dutch head of the ECB but is running into opposition from French President Jacques Chirac, who wants the post to be held by a French candidate.
‘DUISENchet’. On 25 April 1998, the German cartoonist Oliver Sebel illustrates the differences of opinion between German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President Jacques Chirac over the appointment of the President of the future European Central Bank. While Germany is in favour of the appointment of Dutchman Wim Duisenberg as head of the future European Central Bank, Jacques Chirac contests the method used and instead nominates Jean-Claude Trichet, Governor of the Banque de France, maintaining that if Germany has the seat of the ECB, France should get the President.
On 5 May 1998, three days after the end of the Brussels European Council which approved the list of 11 Member States having met the conditions for the adoption of the single currency on 1 January 1999, French cartoonist Plantu paints an ironic picture of the lively negotiations between French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl on the question of the post of President of the future European Central Bank.
‘European Central Bank. Double christening.’ On 5 May 1998, German cartoonist Gabor Benedek illustrates the heightened tensions between France and Germany on the question of the appointment of the President of the European Central Bank. At the Brussels European Council of 2 May 1998, French President Chirac argues strongly for a French appointment to the post, Jean-Claude Trichet. After a day of negotiations with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, a solution is found: Dutchman Wim Duisenberg agrees not to serve his full eight-year term but to stay in the post until the transition to the euro before handing over to Jean-Claude Trichet.
‘Common European policy’. On 8 May 1998, German cartoonist Felix Mussil paints an ironic picture of the supposed good relations between France and Germany based around a common European policy. In reality, the two leaders are engaged in fierce competition for leadership in Europe. From left to right, behind their superficial smiles, President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Helmut Kohl are fighting to take the leading role in Europe.
On 21 October 1998, French cartoonist Cabu offers an ironic depiction of the future of Franco-German relations as imagined by future Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Schröder wants to give new impetus to the Franco-German duo and ‘revamp’ a relationship that has become routine. French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin (on the right) is finding it hard to follow the pace set by Social Democrat Gerhard Schröder, who is taking inspiration from the historical Helmut Kohl–François Mitterrand duo. Since Germany has regained its unity and sovereignty, it has changed its European policy and is unapologetically focused on defending its interests.
On 30 September 1998, the future new German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (on the right) meets French President Jacques Chirac at the Élysée Palace in Paris. During their discussions, Gerhard Schröder explains that he is keen to ‘revamp’ the French–German relationship.
‘Franco-German love story. “We’re all German Jews! Is it going to be like this until the European elections?!!”’ On 1 December 1998, French cartoonist Plantu paints an ironic picture of the tenor of the Franco-German talks in Potsdam, near Berlin. This 72nd summit between the two countries is the first for new Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who is keen to revamp Franco-German relations. French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and President Jacques Chirac seem somewhat irritated by the new style of the Federal Chancellor, but the final declaration from Potsdam reaffirms the driving role of the Franco-German duo in European integration. The slogan ‘We’re all German Jews!’ refers to the events of May 1968 in Paris, when, as a mark of solidarity to Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who was called a German [Jewish] anarchist by his detractors, the student movement riposted with a poster showing Cohn-Bendit with a sardonic smile in front of a line of CRS riot police, and the caption ‘We’re all German Jews’. This slogan has now become one of solidarity in the face of exclusion.
On 2 December 1998, following the Franco-German summit in Potsdam aimed at reaffirming and reviving relations between the two countries, Dutch cartoonist Willem takes an ironic look at the new Chirac–Schröder duo, which is not exempt from the rule of friendship between France and Germany. In the background, we see the portraits of the major players in Franco-German relations since the legendary de Gaulle–Adenauer duo in the 1960s.
‘The Franco–German locomotive.’ In May 2000, the German cartoonist Mohr comments ironically on the real effectiveness of the Franco–German duo (President Jacques Chirac and Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder) as the driving force for European integration.
During a state visit to Berlin on 26 and 27 June 2000, Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic, gives an address to the Bundestag in which he sets out his views on European issues just days before the start of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
‘Constitution. “What?!! You’re telling me I’m the result of genetic engineering?? Um? … Didn’t you know?”’ On 28 June 2000, French cartoonist Plantu paints an ironic picture of the role played by the Franco-German duo in the establishment of a future European constitution. The 1984 commemorative monument evokes the symbolic act of Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand, who, hand in hand, paid tribute at the Douaumont ossuary (near Verdun) to the soldiers from the two countries who died in combat during the First World War. This event emphasised the reconciliation between the two countries and their determination to establish closer relations. On 27 June 2000, following on from the work of Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand, French President Jacques Chirac gave an address to the Bundestag in Berlin in which he put forward the idea of an institutional reform of the European Union. A preparatory period of open reflection for the reorganisation of the treaties could lead to the first European constitution. Chirac also proposed the establishment of a ‘pioneering group’ of countries, which, along with Germany and France, would take part in all areas of enhanced cooperation.
On 7, 8 and 9 December 2000, at the end of the French Presidency, the Nice European Council is held to decide on the amendments to be made to the Treaty on European Union. This is the longest Council ever held, mainly because of the marked differences of opinion and lively debates between the governments on the reform of the institutions. The photo shows French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (sitting down), both in a good mood, at the beginning of the first working session of the Council.
‘Nice 2000’. On 7 December 2000, as European leaders meet for the Nice European Council, which should see them decide on a number of changes to the Community legal and institutional system, German cartoonist Horst Haitzinger harshly criticises the attitude of French President Chirac and German Chancellor Schröder, who seem to want to share out the European Union between themselves. Haitzinger bases his cartoon on a drawing by the famous British cartoonist James Gillray (1757–1815), who was well known for his satirical drawings on political and social issues. In his 1805 cartoon ‘The Plumb-pudding in danger: — or — State Epicures taking un Petit Souper’, British Prime Minister William Pitt, wearing a uniform and military headgear, is sat at a table with his French adversary Napoleon. The two figures are sharing out a huge plum pudding depicted as a world map. As in Gillray’s drawing, Haitzinger shows the French President and the German Chancellor in uniform, cheerfully sharing out the EU’s future.
‘Back from Nice’. On 11 December 2000, the Austrian cartoonist Ironimus (Gustav Peichl) paints an ironic picture of the disappointing results of the Nice European Council and illustrates the disagreement between France and Germany over the institutional architecture of the European Union. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (on the left) and French President Jacques Chirac (on the right), depicted as EU ambulance drivers, are moving in opposite directions.
‘The European Parade.’ On 12 December 2000, the German cartoonist Mohr comments ironically on the modest achievements of the Nice European Council and criticises in particular the attitude of the French President Jacques Chirac, depicted as a 'Gallic rooster' towards his European partners.
‘What’s the matter with it?’ On 12 December 2000, as the very difficult Nice European Council comes to a close, German cartoonist Burkhard Mohr illustrates the divisions between Berlin and Paris on the question of the future institutional architecture of the European Union and paints an ironic picture of the future of the Franco-German duo as the engine driving the European integration process. From left to right: French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
“‘Franco-German relations are excellent.” — French President Jacques Chirac.’ On 31 January 2001, German cartoonist Heiko Sakurai illustrates the proverbial arm wrestle between German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (on the left) and French President Jacques Chirac (on the right) over European issues. On 31 January the two leaders meet in Strasbourg at Chirac’s request in a bid to revive Franco-German relations, which have been strained since the long and difficult negotiations on the reform of the European institutions at the Nice European Council.
‘And when she arrives with her sauerkraut, you say: “Thank you, Mrs Europe”! Honestly, he can’t talk to me like that!’ On 1 February 2001, French cartoonist Plantu illustrates the tensions within the Franco-German duo and ironically portrays the attempts to resume dialogue between Paris and Berlin. On 31 January, President Jacques Chirac (on the left) meets German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (on the right) in Blaesheim, Alsace, to revitalise relations between France and Germany, which have been suffering since the difficult Nice European Council. This initiative by Chirac leads to the Blaesheim process, which provides for regular close consultation via meetings every other month between the French President and Prime Minister, the German Chancellor, and their foreign ministers. The cartoon shows former Chancellor Helmut Kohl and former President François Mitterrand looking on in concern at the future of the Franco-German duo.
‘Whither Europe?’ On 5 February 2001, after the Blaesheim meeting, which it is hoped will give a new lease of life to the Franco-German duo following sharp tensions between the two Heads of State at the Nice European Council, German cartoonist Berndt A. Skott paints an ironic picture of the battle between Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and President Jacques Chirac for leadership in Europe. Will Europe’s future be German or French?