President hails "new chapter" for France and Germany
Treaty on Franco-German Cooperation and Integration – Speech by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic
Aachen, 22 January 2019
Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, chère Angela Merkel,
Mayor of Aix-la-Chapelle,
Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia state,
President of Romania,
President of the European Council,
President of the European Commission,
President of the French Senate,
President of the French National Assembly,
President of the German Bundesrat,
Members of Parliament,
President of the German Federal Constitutional Court,
German minister-presidents, French regional and departmental council presidents, mayors,
When Konrad Adenauer and General de Gaulle signed the Elysée Treaty in January 1963, they sealed the reconciliation between our two countries, prepared and cemented since the end of the war. They were going against everything which would inexorably have led them again to division.
Today, this reconciliation has taken concrete form, it can clearly be seen, and we probably sometimes underestimate the power of this historic miracle for our two countries, and for Europe. We have passed so many milestones since then. We have learned to face up to our respective histories.
In 2018, from Hartmannswillerkopf to the Arc de Triomphe, from the glade in Rethondes to the Bundestag, we were able to take time to remember our fratricidal combats of the past, because our friendship today is stronger. And I want to express here, in turn, my gratitude to our two countries’ previous leaders, my gratitude to all the political leaders who, for so many decades, step by step, built links on the ground between our regions, our towns and cities, and my gratitude to all those who, over those decades, brought our civil societies and our young people closer together, to create today what then seemed impossible.
This friendship has grown stronger since 1963, even when the winds of history have at times complicated matters. And I would like to pay particular tribute to Chancellor Adenauer and General de Gaulle: what they accomplished is unique, and I think they would be proud and moved to see that 56 years later, their Treaty lives on, that our friendship has grown to include all of Europe, at last reunited, and that we have found the strength, against all odds, to write a new page of history together.
I would also like to commend the commitment of Angela Merkel, who has unwaveringly remained at France’s side and who has unwaveringly remained at Europe’s side. Since I have been President of the French Republic, I think I can say that three European choices have constantly guided us both: to never give in to confrontation but always speak the complete truth to each other, continually strengthen the Franco-German base that remains crucial to a Europe undergoing huge change, as we are doing today, and broaden our action to include all our EU partners, because a successful Europe cannot be built in isolation, by one or even two member states. That is why this treaty today is essential, and that is why your presence as Presidents of the European institutions – cher Jean-Claude, cher Donald, cher Klaus – is much more than just a symbol.
It is through this Treaty of Aachen that a new chapter is beginning today for Germany and France. On the foundations of reconciliation, we are taking a new step forward. At a time when our Europe is threatened by nationalist movements emerging within its borders, when Europe is being upset by a painful Brexit, when Europe is worried by major international changes which go far beyond nations – the climate, digital technology, terrorism, immigration, blows which also strike at the European model and make us question our identity –, in this world and this Europe, Germany and France must also shoulder their responsibility and show the way forward. The way which involves ambition, real sovereignty, and protecting peoples. They should especially show how much adult nations, living in peace and concerned with people’s future, have to gain from converging in areas that make our nations and our continent stronger, and ultimately, more independent, because the fundamental danger no longer comes from neighbours. It comes from outside Europe and inside our societies, if we are unable to address the anger people increasingly feel.
It is through the ambitious convergence of our social rules, our innovation policies, our standards, our defence, our strategic culture, and through the new coming together of our citizens, young people, cultures and communities, through the affirmation of new solidarity in the face of these threats, that we will be able to exercise together this new French-German responsibility for Europe.
You have just described this treaty, Chancellor. A great deal of what it includes seemed impossible a few years ago. Mutual solidarity on defence, which we are endorsing, is unique. It wipes away decades of division. It puts forward a plan for protection and defence. What we are promoting in terms of culture, education and innovation is our ability to prepare our people, given all these threats, all these challenges, so they can contribute in some way to the world’s ambition. What we are endorsing in terms of economic and social convergence is the gradual coming together of our societies and of what, for too many years, has very often been diverging. What we are endorsing is closer links between border regions, the creation of a new momentum that reflects the daily reality experienced by so many of our fellow citizens. Through symbols and everyday gestures, by facilitating the lives of tens of thousands of border people who live on one side and work on the other, we are also building this unity.
Unity, solidarity and cohesion are the key words of the treaty we are signing. Europe will not survive a lack of unity; it would die. Therein lies the new French-German responsibility for Europe: to give it instruments for its sovereignty, when it comes to defence, security, access to space, and migration, amid the environmental and digital transitions.
The conflicts between France and Germany tore the world apart. It was our duty to end them once and for all. And we did. From now on, our joint aim should be for Europe to shield our peoples from the world’s turmoil and unrest. That is the challenge we have today. It is these new forms of protection, our ability finally to explain, show and demonstrate that the friendship between Germany and France, that our joint projects, that our ambition for Europe is what genuinely protects and what genuinely allows us to regain control over our lives and build our freely chosen destinies in the world which is opening up.
And those who forget the value of Franco-German reconciliation are accomplices in the crimes of the past. Those who exaggerate or spread lies are harming our history and our peoples, which they are claiming to defend by trying to make our history repeat itself. I would rather look our Europe in the face. It struggles at times. Sometimes we do not move fast enough. But look also at everything we have accomplished these past few decades, everything we have gone on accomplishing these past few months and everything which awaits us. And I would rather look our Europe in the face; it is holding the course, we have to strengthen it every day, going further than the step we are taking today, because we will have to translate today’s words into tomorrow’s deeds, but also because the world and every one of our citizens needs this, they are increasingly uncertain and calling for an ever-stronger response.
Yes, I would rather look with you, all together, at this Europe which is progressing, which we are building ambitiously, strongly, and which is also being built on this solid friendship, on our new areas of agreement and on this new ambition we are endorsing today.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, we ardently love our countries, and because we love them, we do not want to cherish what has at times ravaged them: hatred of the other, unhealthy resentment, a failure to remember what our cultures have constantly brought each other. Yes, we love our countries and we love Europe, because we know they are profoundly, irreversibly inseparable. And, Madam Chancellor, chère Angela, as you said, we are here in this place which symbolizes the deep roots of this Europe which has made us what we are, and being here, we are rediscovering the vibrant heart of this history which seems to constantly repeat itself. But what we have invented over the past 70 years is unique. It is neither Roman nor Carolingian history, nor countless dreams of empire which have at times brought us together, one of us under the domination or dependence of the other. No, this is a new, non-hegemonic, profoundly democratic project, something we have thought up together, a freely agreed, chosen project, reinvented daily, where one does not decide for the other or others, but all members constantly take decisions together for themselves. Our Europe is not another dream of empire. It is a democratic, re-energized project, and this is what we are celebrating today. And in this, Charlemagne’s city - moving from one language to another, moving from one dream to another – we are basically celebrating the fact that, knowing all our differences, we know at any moment what the other’s difference brings us.
Listening to you, Madam Chancellor and Mr President, just now, I was remembering with some emotion what Mme de Staël sometimes said: “When my heart searches for a word in French and does not find it, I sometimes go searching for it in the German language.” There are words we do not understand, there are words we do not translate, but each step we take narrows the gap between these untranslatable things, and there are words our hearts need from the other’s language, because this element of the incomprehensible brings us closer together, because the element of what I do not understand in German has a romantic charm that French sometimes no longer provides for me. It is inexpressible, it is irrational, but we must cherish this element of the inexpressible and irrational which will not be in any of our treaties, and which is the vibrant, magical element of what brings us together today and which makes us what we are. So, yes, we love our countries, we love our very friendship and what unites us, and we love Europe; and because we love it, we have decided to go on building it, with strength, enthusiasm and determination.
Long live our friendship, and long live Europe./.