Élysée Treaty

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The signing of the treaty in the Salon Murat of the Élysée Palace

The Élysée Treaty was a treaty of friendship between France and West Germany, signed by President Charles de Gaulle and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer on January 22, 1963 at the Élysée Palace in Paris. With the signing of this treaty, Germany and France established a new foundation for relations that ended centuries of rivalry between them.


DFG / LFA Buc school in Buc, Yvelines, France was established by this treaty

The treaty called for regular consultations between France and West Germany on all important questions concerning defense, education and youth issues. It also requires regular summits between high-level officials, which implies that the Heads of State and Government have to meet at least twice a year and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs every three months, to ensure close collaboration between the two states.[1]

The first meeting between the two heads of state took place at the private home of General de Gaulle at Colombey-les-Deux-Églises in September 1958. Since then, French and German heads of state have kept up the strong relationship, often considered as the engine of European integration (see Franco-German cooperation).

Additionally, an interministerial commission was established to coordinate and overlook the Franco-German collaboration. It consists of high-ranked officials of every involved ministry.


Just two months after the signing of the friendship treaty, a new controversy between France and Germany occurred. President de Gaulle intended the treaty to make West Germany distance itself and eventually separate itself from its American protector. He saw West Germany (and the other member states of the European Economic Community) as vassalized by Washington. The treaty was notable in that it made no mention of the US, Britain, NATO, or the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT).

However, after US President John F. Kennedy expressed his displeasure about this to the West German ambassador to the United States, the Bundestag ratified the treaty with a preamble which called on France and West Germany to pursue tight cooperation with the US, for Britain's eventual admission to the EEC, for the achievement of a free trade accord in the framework of the GATT and for the West's military integration in NATO under US leadership. This effectively emptied the Treaty of any sense (in Gaullist understanding) and put end to General de Gaulle's hopes of building the EEC into a counterweight to the US and the USSR. "The Germans are behaving like pigs. They are putting themselves completely at the Americans' service. They're betraying the spirit of the Franco-German Treaty. And they're betraying Europe."[2]

Later, in 1965, the General told his closest aides behind closed doors :

"The Germans had been my greatest hope; they are my greatest disappointment." [3]


DFG-LFA Freiburg in Germany, another of the treaty's French-German schools

Among the direct consequences of the Treaty are the creation of the Franco-German Youth Office (l'Office Franco-allemand pour la jeunesse/Deutsch-Französisches Jugendwerk), the creation of Franco-German high schools and the twinning between numerous French and German towns, schools and regions. Another outcome of the Treaty was the Franco-German military brigade, which was established in 1987 and is still intact.

In January 2003, the Assemblée Nationale and the Deutsche Bundestag met in Versailles to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Treaty. A very symbolic place to meet, considering the history of humiliation both countries had to face at the palace [4] (see Treaty of Versailles 1871 and Treaty of Versailles 1919).

New forms of bilateral coordination between the two countries were created in the course of the 40th anniversary celebration, such as the Franco-German Ministerial Council, which meets twice a year. The celebration also led to the creation for the first time of a common Franco-German History Coursebook to be used in both countries and foster a shared vision of history. Additionally, a so called Élysée-Fond was established to promote Franco-German culture projects in third countries. Also, double citizenships for French and German citizens in the opposite country are now easier to obtain, or in some cases finally possible.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Élysée Treaty". www.deutschland-frankreich.diplo.de. Retrieved 27 September 2016. 
  2. ^ Alain Peyrefitte, C’était de Gaulle, Editions Fayard, Paris 1997, tome 2, pp. 270.
  3. ^ Alain Peyrefitte, C’était de Gaulle, Editions Fayard, Paris 1997, tome 2, pp. 303-305.
  4. ^ Gunkel, Christoph. "Treaty Heralded New Era in Franco-German Ties". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 26 September 2016. 
  • Ansbert Baumann (2003) Begegnung der Völker? Der Élysée-Vertrag und die Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Deutsch-französische Kulturpolitik von 1963 bis 1969. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, ISBN 3-631-50539-6.
  • Ansbert Baumann (2002) Die organisierte Zusammenarbeit. Die deutsch-französischen Beziehungen am Vorabend des Élysée-Vertrags (1958–1962). Ludwigsburg: DFI compact, 1, ISSN 1619-8441.
  • Corine Defrance, Ulrich Pfeil (2005) Der Élysée-Vertrag und die deutsch-französischen Beziehungen 1945–1963–2003. Munich: Oldenbourg, ISBN 3-486-57678-X.
  • Corine Defrance, Ulrich Pfeil (2012) La France, l’Allemagne et le traité de l’Élysée, 1963–2013, Paris: CNRS, ISBN 978-2-271-07488-1.
  • Ulrich Lappenküper (2001) Die deutsch-französischen Beziehungen 1949–1963. Von der „Erbfeindschaft“ zur „Entente élémentaire“. Munich: Oldenbourg, ISBN 3-486-56522-2.
  • Ulrich Pfeil (2012) "Zur Bedeutung des Élysée-Vertrags" [1]

External links[edit]