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France, Germany mark treaty date

Celebrations for 50th anniversary of de Gaulle and Adenauer’s historic Elysée Treaty that led to birth of Europe

FRANCE and Germany mark history today in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty signed by President de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer that started a new era of cooperation between the two rival nations – and the birth of the European Union.

After a day of talks yesterday on the future of the Eurozone and the conflict in Mali, President François Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel will gather their ministers for a meeting in the Chancellery.

Later, nearly 500 MPs from the National Assembly will fill the Bundestag for a joint meeting of the two parliaments.

The celebrations take place against a troubled background. Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats lost a closely fought election in Lower Saxony and dented her hopes of winning autumn’s federal elections. Meanwhile, Hollande’s rating in opinion polls is at an unprecedented low and his economic problems in France are compounded by entering what could be a protracted – and expensive – military campaign against Islamists in Mali.

Reports said that Merkel made no mention of the costs during yesterday’s meeting as Hollande continued to push for an emphasis on growth in Europe rather than simple austerity.

The two leaders were just eight years old when the Elysée Treaty was signed, 18 years after the end of the Second World War, and will today give a joint press conference. Reports have said they are moving towards a better working relationship – though still far apart on specifics.

Today’s events also include the launch of a new €2 coin with the heads of both de Gaulle and Adenauer, a joint dinner with both countries’ cabinets and music by both Beethoven and Saint-Saens in a concert in the Berlin Philharmonic Hall.
Photo: M.Fenez-Franzoesische Botschaft Berlin

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