François Hollande addresses German Bundestag

50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty – Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, to the Bundestag (excerpts)

Berlin, 22 January 2013

Franco-German friendship

I am aware of the exceptional moment we are experiencing: the meeting of our two parliaments, with the government leaders and the two presidents, and the privilege I have been given of speaking here, on France’s behalf, at the Bundestag. I want to praise the Chancellor once again for making us feel so welcome over the past two days, to celebrate a treaty signed 50 years ago by two statesmen, Konrad Adenauer and General de Gaulle, who were bold, brave and passionate enough to think it possible not only to reconcile our two peoples but to unite the destinies of France and Germany through a treaty which, in itself, was able to lay the groundwork for friendship. The success of this challenge exceeded even the signatories’ intentions.

Throughout the past 50 years, their successors – the heads of government and the presidents – have been careful to cultivate and maintain the friendship between our two countries and at every stage add new projects to it, conceived not just for France and Germany but for Europe itself. In other words, to ensure that what enabled us to get back together could also provide an opportunity for Europe to be reunited.

This friendship has acted as a driving force over the past 50 years. This doesn’t mean that it hasn’t had its ups and downs or been tempestuous! We must stop seeing Franco-German friendship as a long, peaceful journey! (...)

For us to unite (...) we are required to come together for a common will, to promote an original economic and social model, to protect the environment, to share a similar view of the world, because Europe is a power. It is a power! But one different from the others; a power which wants to contribute to peace and promote universal values.


France is setting about this today in Mali, in the face of a terrorist aggression which is jeopardizing the future of that country – one of the poorest in the world – and also undermining the stability of West Africa and therefore the security of our own continent.

I thank Germany for her support and backing.

Her political support for our initative, which was worthy of our relationship and is shared by the whole of Europe. But also her logistical, material, financial and humanitarian support. In a few days’ time there will be a donors’ conference; Germany, and Europe as a whole, will play their full role.

This intervention was necessary. Later would have been too late. It complies with international law and seeks to enable the adoption and above all the implementation of the Security Council’s wish to restore Mali’s integrity, thanks to an African force that will stabilize Mali and hence that region of the world for a long time.

France was able to take this responsibility because she had a presence in Africa. She’s not there to seek interest or influence. She’s there to provide help, so we’re ensuring this intervention will be useful: useful to Mali – it will be –, useful to Africa so that it becomes aware of its own responsibilities, and useful to Europe so that it forges closer defence ties. I’d like France and Germany to revisit the goals set out in the Elysée Treaty 50 years ago: a common foreign policy, harmonizing our doctrines, and carrying out joint projects, particularly in the defence industry.

Our meeting today is the opportunity to assert, in addition to our friendship, an ambition.


Firstly we must work to get Europe out of crisis. I think we’re already out of the Euro Area crisis, even though we must still work on it and be vigilant and careful. But we’ve introduced the mechanisms that allow stability. We’ve created a growth compact, we’ve also managed to come to the support of countries which were asking us to and had made an effort to appeal for our help. It also remains for us to adopt a budget for Europe. I’m addressing members of parliament who follow this closely, and the President of the European Parliament, who will also have to ensure this budget can be passed.

What are our intentions?

To control spending – as everywhere, and we’re certainly doing it – but also to free up resources to prepare the future. To pay attention to our common policies: I’m not only talking about the Common Agricultural Policy, which is often identified with France – wrongly, because it serves the whole of Europe – I’m also thinking about the so-called cohesion countries, which need a European budget.

We also have to give Europe the means no longer to undergo the crises it has experienced, particularly with regard to its banks; hence the banking union plan we’ve adopted, which in the coming months will be translated into concrete decisions and institutions that will ensure this supervision of the banks. There too, we must go further and ensure there is discipline – fiscal discipline but also discipline in banking behaviour.

Once again we, France and Germany – through the deepening of Economic and Monetary Union and the project we agree on – must ensure this Economic and Monetary Union also leads to political union. I’m ready to receive all proposals, and France will listen to all those nations that want to move further with the European commitment, provided we pursue future projects together. (…)

Where can we find common ground in the coming years?

I’m not saying the next 50: I don’t know where we’ll be in 50 years’ time – I mean yes, I do have a few ideas! We have to ensure we can move forward together on European energy. We don’t have the same energy policy, but at the same time we have the same requirement on climate change. So we’re ready – France is ready, along with Germany and all those countries that so wish – to define this European energy: innovation, research, the independence of our supplies, and protecting the planet. That’s an initial area where we can cooperate more.

The second area is European transport: European skies, the railway network and clean vehicles. We can do all this together. Another area is digital Europe: taking the lead, equipping our countries, guaranteeing new regulation, preventing cultural goods from being like any other merchandize, and ensuring copyright is protected. Finally, the Europe of future generations: education, research, higher education and vocational training.

Those are the areas I propose for the coming decades of Franco-German and EU friendship.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The friendship we are celebrating today is a tribute to history, to the men and women who have made it a reality, to the peoples who have been a part of it, and to all those citizens’ initiatives that have enabled our friendship to be strengthened year after year, generation after generation.

But our friendship must today be a call: a call to our two countries to forge still closer ties, a call to citizens to take control of their destiny, and a call to young people to have confidence in their future.

The union of France and Germany, said Victor Hugo, would mean peace in the world. Victor Hugo may have been prophetic. We’ve made peace in Europe, but not yet in the world.

So we must welcome this history and the Nobel Prize awarded to Europe – to the European idea, the European enterprise, which has been seen as almost an anachronism; we must savour it, because it rewards previous generations’ efforts to ensure that Europe is today a common destiny. This prize confers a duty on us, drives us forward to pursue new plans and take new initiatives.

So this is the ambition I want to offer, with you. It’s confidence that we must regain: confidence in our currency, confidence in our economy, confidence in our social model, confidence in the values we uphold, and confidence in young people. And how can we be more confident than when we are gathered here together, French and Germans, to talk about our friendship?./.

Published on 29/01/2013

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