Threats to EU prompt Franco-German 'unity' treaty

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on January 22, 2019 - Duration: 01:46s

Threats to EU prompt Franco-German 'unity' treaty

German Chancellor and Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron signed a treaty extension on Tuesday in a bid to show unity in the face of challenges to the European Union.

David Doyle and Paul Carrel report.

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Threats to EU prompt Franco-German 'unity' treaty

The leaders of France and Germany put pen to paper on Tuesday (January 22) in a bid to bolster unity in the European Union.

That as the EU continues to grapple with the challenges posed by Brexit and rising eurosceptic nationalism.

Reuters Paul Carrel is in Berlin (SOUNDBITE) (English) PAUL CARREL, REUTERS CHIEF BERLIN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, SAYING "Yeah, the timing is very relevant.

The European Union has a number of forces testing its cohesion, pulling at its fabric if you like.

Brexit's obviously a big one, but also we got differences over immigration policy and budget policy, still something that's stemming from the Eurozone crisis a number of years ago.

So with this initiative today, Chancellor Merkel and President Macron wanted to demonstrate some leadership with the Franco-German axis, which is traditionally been at the center of the European Union is still working., and on track and ready to reform." The accord signed by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron in the German town of Aachen is light on detail.

It commits to closer ties on foreign and domestic policy but does little to advance euro zone reforms. The document itself is an extension to the 1963 Elysee treaty, a concord of post war reconciliation signed by French President Charles de Gaulle and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.

Ironically, perhaps, it was also the year de Gaulle vetoed Britain's entry into the European Community, the precursor to the European Union.

Now Britain's EU-exit, as well as nationalist leadership in Hungary, Italy and Poland, have put strains on the 28-member bloc.

Both leaders are facing domestic political challenges but in Aachen they were keen to show leadership and a united front.

Outside, however, they were met by both pro- and anti-EU protesters - a visual warning that the pen may not be mightier than the discord.

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