France, Germany strengthen treaty ties to tackle EU crisis

- Agence France-Presse, AACHEN (Germany)

Jan 23, 2019-

France and Germany on Tuesday signed a new friendship treaty to deepen their alliance at a time of crisis for the EU, drawing fire from the far right whom President Emmanuel Macron slapped down for “spreading lies” about the pact.

Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel inked the accord to deepen ties as Britain prepares to leave the European Union and tensions are rising with populist leaders in the bloc.

The treaty pledges stronger political, economic and defence ties and restates the countries’ commitment to the European Union.

The document has come under attack from the far right, which accuses the pair of signing away their countries’ sovereignty.

The leader of France’s National Rally, Marine Le Pen, accused Macron of “an act that borders on treason”.

And a co-chief of Germany’s far-right AfD party, Alexander Gauland, charged Paris and Berlin were seeking to create a “super EU” within the European Union.

“We as populists insist that one first takes care of one’s own country,” said Gauland. “We don’t want Macron to renovate his country with German money.”

Macron condemned the allegations.

“Those who forget the value of French-German reconciliation are making themself accomplices of the crimes of the past,” he said.

“Those who... spread lies are hurting the same people they are pretending to defend by seeking to repeat our history.”

Macron says the treaty “shows that our friendship between France and Germany, our common project and our ambition for Europe are what really protect us, and what allow us really to take back control of our lives and to build our destiny”.

Tuesday’s signing ceremony took place in the German city of Aachen, on the Dutch and Belgian borders — a place rich in European symbolism as the seat of power of Charlemagne, the 9th-century emperor who ruled over swathes of western Europe.

It was held on the anniversary of a friendship pact signed in 1963 by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer.

The new accord aims to strengthen the “Franco-German motor” seen as the driving force behind European integration.

Merkel said it was all the more important as “we live in special times” when “more decisive, clearer and future-oriented answers are needed”.

Even if Europe is today more integrated than decades ago, “populism and nationalism are on the rise”, she noted.

Both European leaders have been facing domestic discontent in recent months.

Macron took office in May 2017 promising major reforms of the EU to restore faith in its institutions and quell rising populism.

Published: 23-01-2019 11:20

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