Toulouse The southern French metropolis of Toulouse will host a premiere on Wednesday: for the first time since the agreement of the Aachen Treaty, the German and French governments will meet for the joint Council of Ministers. In the contract, Germans and French had decided to cooperate more closely. It will be seen on Wednesday evening whether this will happen when Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron come to the press together.
You have done a lot. Thus, there should be joint declarations on the topics of climate, economy and trade, innovation, cooperation in space policy, migration and asylum and the realization of the Treaty of Aachen. Apart from that, Macron and Merkel also want to speak out on defense policy and expand the already existing German-French Defense Council into a truly operational body.
Also in the pipeline are decisions on the new European Fighter System (FCAS) and the European Common Tank. But that's not all. Because of course, the two bosses will also exchange views on the foreign policy situation.
Together, France and Germany in the EU have achieved condemnation by the EU of the Turkish attack on northern Syria and the Kurdish fighters active there against the Islamic State (IS) militia. The question now is how to proceed after the mutually agreed embargo on new arms deliveries.
Both governments are condemning Turkey with limited energy, leaving no doubt that Ankara will remain a NATO partner that is valued. When it comes to sanctions, Berlin and Paris become very reserved.
Cooperation in defense policy has been upgraded by the Treaty of Aachen, compared with the previous Elysée Treaty. But it is still difficult for governments to translate the greater claim into reality.
Already two years ago, Macron and Merkel decided to develop jointly and in cooperation with other European partners a state-of-the-art system for the combat aircraft of the future (FCAS). This relies on cutting-edge technologies not only in hardware, but also in communications, artificial intelligence and the interaction of various weapon systems. No European country can do it alone.
A first feasibility study has paid especially the French. The formerly controversial competitors Airbus and Dassault have teamed up for a cooperation – a remarkable step. But now FCAS seems to fall into an air hole.
The French would like to come quickly to the development of demonstrators for the new system, so models in very small numbers. With these models you can learn what the definitive aircraft and its surroundings might look like. Airbus and Dassault need binding financial commitments. But that's what hapers in Berlin. The budget committee of the Bundestag wants to release funds probably only in homeopathic doses.
However, according to the industrialists, this is not enough to build up the necessary highly specialized teams for development and to keep them for several years. On Wednesday evening will show whether Paris and Berlin underpinn their theoretical ambition with hard euros. At one point both governments have dimmed expectations: the expected common guidelines for arms exports are still not presented.
“We will not let you down”
The French President and the German Chancellor will begin their meeting with a joint visit to Airbus. They want to see the final assembly of the largest and most modern aircraft after the A380 has been discontinued, the A350. The visit has a symbolic character, and not only for German-French cooperation.
The subsidies for the A350, which gave both governments a boost, are the reason for US sanctions, which the World Trade Organization (WTO) has approved. They should come into force on Monday and have a volume of around 6.8 billion euros. This is the highest amount ever approved by the WTO in a dispute.
When the two top politicians visit the factory building, which literally produces the stumbling block, it is also a political message, saying: We will not let you down. Particularly exciting is the question of whether the two governments in the course of the day to exact statements about how they want to continue the trade dispute with the Americans.
Do you have any idea how Washington can win a joint agreement to stop expensive and harmful subsidies altogether? Airbus would be all right, because the US sanctions affect their own business sensitive.
More: French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire calls in the Handelsblatt interview more investment from Germany.
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