In a newsletter published on 22 January 2024 on the occasion of the 20th Franco-German Day as well as the 5th anniversary of the Treaty of Aachen, Johannes Lindner, Co-Director of the Jacques Delors Centre, and Sylvie Matelly, Director of the Institut Jacques Delors, share their thoughts on the legacy of Wolfgang Schäuble and Jacques Delors.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of Franco-German Day as well as the 5th anniversary of the Treaty of Aachen. These are two welcome occasions to take a moment and consider the outlines of the Franco-German contribution to the European integration. As we enter 2024, we do so with a special thought for Jacques Delors. He himself had a deep connection with this reconciliation, after the two world wars that his family, like so many others, had lived through, with their share of pain and suffering.
For him, the Franco-German reconciliation was a constitutive and essential event – a historic opportunity that laid the foundations for a much broader and more ambitious project, that of the construction of a united Europe. Indeed, the transition from bilateral reconciliation to a political engine capable of driving European progress seemed only natural.
He knew how to seize the opportunity presented by the post-war history. When favourable circumstances began to emerge in the 1980s, he did not hesitate to pursue this course. Through long-term work, a defined method and a clear vision, he became instrumental for the transformation of Europe and building the European Union that we know today.
The Franco-German legacy of this success remains not only relevant, but essential to the many European projects that need to be taken forward. Wolfgang Schäuble, who passed one day before Jacques Delors and whose legacy is honoured today at the German Bundestag, also carried this spirit. The deep roots of this friendship are underlined by the fact that on this occasion, the President of France Emmanuel Macron will be addressing the German parliament and paying his respect together with members of the French government. This normality of close Franco-German relations is also the fruit of Wolfgang Schäuble's repeated efforts in this direction, as he was co-president of the Franco-German Parliamentary Assembly when it was founded in 2019.
Paris and Berlin must constantly renew their efforts to maintain and develop this special bond – in particular at a time when, more than ever, we need an open and inclusive dialogue with all member countries and European institutions, as well as a willingness and determination to pursue more intense European integration. The two institutions, the Institute Jacques Delors in Paris and the Jacques Delors Centre in Berlin, will continue to work towards this goal.
Johannes Lindner, Co-Director, Jacques Delors Centre
Sylvie Matelly, Director, Institute Jacques Delors
For the anniversary, we have asked participants of the recent conference "Pariser Platz Dialogue" to share their thoughts on the Franco-German friendship. The playlist with all five videos can be found here.