After considerable tensions in recent months, Germany and France want to move closer together again. To this end, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) set off with his cabinet for Paris on Sunday morning, where the consultations with the French government that were postponed in October will be held on a historic date. The Élysée Treaty was signed 60 years ago to reconcile the two former wartime enemies. To this day, it is considered the basis for Franco-German friendship.

To mark the anniversary, there will be a ceremony by the two parliaments in the renowned Sorbonne University, in which the governments will take part. At the subsequent joint cabinet meeting, the topics of economy and energy, security and defense as well as Europe are on the agenda. The result should be a joint declaration outlining a vision for the future of Europe.

In a joint article for the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” and the “Journal du Dimanche”, Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron wrote that they wanted to make the EU an “even stronger leader of hope”. “60 years after the signing of the Elysée Treaty, Germany and France are in agreement when they look at the fundamental questions about the future of Europe.”

The deliberations will deal, among other things, with further support for Ukraine in its defense against the Russian attackers. Scholz is being urged by Ukraine and several allies to clear the way for deliveries of Leopard 2 main battle tanks. Because these tanks are produced in Germany, the federal government has a right of veto if they are passed on from other countries. So you play a key role, but Scholz has not yet decided. It is also unclear whether France wants to send its Leclerc main battle tank to Ukraine.

The coordination of arms deliveries to Ukraine has not gone well between the two governments recently. In early January, Macron pushed ahead with the decision on reconnaissance and armored personnel carriers and announced it a day before Scholz and US President Joe Biden.

But there was already Franco-German resentment when dealing with the consequences of the Ukraine war: last autumn, France was displeased with German resistance to a European gas price cap and the federal government’s 200 billion program to cushion high energy costs. At the time, Macron accused Germany of isolating itself in Europe.

The head of the Munich Security Conference, Christoph Heusgen, sees responsibility for the tensions in Franco-German relations on both sides. “Certainly, the German side did not always take France into account. But France doesn’t always act in a European way either,” he told the German Press Agency.

The former foreign policy advisor to Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is now hoping for a turn for the better. “It is important that there is a political will to cooperate. And the anniversary of the Elysée Treaty is an excellent opportunity to clearly emphasize to the outside world that Germany and France are aware of their historical responsibility that they must work closely together.” In global competition, Europe must function now in order not to be left behind “If Germany and France disagree, Europe stagnates.”

The meeting of the Franco-German Council of Ministers was surprisingly canceled in October. The German side justified this with the ongoing need for coordination. At the time, it was said from the Élysée Palace that the important issues of defense and energy had to be discussed further. The economic part of the consultations will now deal, among other things, with cooperation in the energy sector, where both countries help each other with deliveries and with the transition to a more climate-friendly economic system.

In addition, dealing with the US inflation control law should take up a lot of space, which provides for billions in investments in climate protection. However, subsidies and tax credits are linked to companies using US products or producing them themselves in the USA, which is why people in Europe fear disadvantages for domestic companies. “We will be firmly committed to an ambitious strategy to boost the competitiveness of European industry and to a European environment that stimulates competition and innovation,” Scholz and Macron wrote in their joint newspaper article.

The defense ministers of 50 countries met at the US air force base in Ramstein on Friday to discuss aid for Ukraine. Germany wants to check the availability of Leopard 2 tanks. The USA does not yet want to deliver Abrams main battle tanks. All developments in the news ticker.

The Greens are getting more and more in need of explanation. The reasons: the climate protests in Lützerath and the new RWE deal. On Wednesday evening, the new Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) first ordered an examination of the stocks of Leopard tanks for a possible delivery to Ukraine on Friday. A report now reveals that his predecessor Christine Lambrecht is said to have banned this within the ministry shortly before.