After the end of the World War Two, France and Germany experienced hostile relations. Indeed, from 1945 to 1950, the two countries were both traumatized by the souvenir of their mutual occupation. On the French side, the Nazi's occupation had created a feeling of revenge, and on the German's one, the experience of the zone occupied by France had fuelled the hate.
But politicians like Robert Schumannn, Jean Monnet or Konrad Adenauer, who wanted the two countries to be reconciled to guarantee their harmonious development and the security of Europe, made it possible through the creation of a European community first confined to industrial production but soon extended to many economic and political aspects. From 1950, a real Franco-German partnership was created around the European construction. The two countries' relations, built upon a measure of convergence of ideas and interests, a joint management of political projects and common institutions, became central for the community. Actually, the project of European integration had underpinned the bilateral Franco-German relationship and provided a constraining multilateral framework for the conduct of it (1). As a consequence, the Franco-German tandem (2) became the cornerstone of the development of the European community.
Actually, the couple has a powerful agenda setting role and is at the origin of all major treaties. The political leaders of both countries are in close collaboration and, today, the Franco-German partnership is still seen as the historical motor of Europe (3).
[...] Besides, the pivotal role of the Franco-German partnership can be explained by the fact that the European institutions had been modelled along Franco-German lines (19). For example, the existence of a cabinet and a “direction generale” in the European commission or of the system of “concours” used in the community's recruitment had been highly copied on the French institutions' model. This allowed the two countries to place their nationals in key directorates in areas of overriding national interest. As a consequence, we can say that the Franco-German partnership had a powerful agenda setting role during the whole European community's history (20). [...]
[...] As a word of conclusion, we can say that the Franco-German partnership as played a pivotal role throughout the development of the European community because of the gathering of many factors. Actually, its leadership position, inaugurated by its role of pioneer in the European Coal an Steel Community and the symbolic dimension of the reconciliation had been reinforced by the De Gaulle and Adenauer's entente and the signature of the treaty of Paris. After this, the fact that the couple was the most powerful political and economic alliance within the community allowed it to have a powerful agenda setting role and reinforced its hegemony on the other member states. [...]
[...] But this is not the only reason why these two states had such a leading role throughout the European community development. Actually, they also played the role of “political and geographical brokers” (25). Because of their places in Europe, they became the spokespersons for the other member states. Indeed, France emerged as the advocate of southern countries interests, such as the defence of agriculture which constitutes an important point for Spain for example. Similarly, Germany has tended to be aligned with northern states for which free trade is prevailing. [...]
[...] Actually, the pivotal role occupied by the Franco-German partnership throughout the development of the European Community originates in the simple fact that these two countries can be considered as the “founding fathers” of Europe. In 1950, France had to find an idea to limit Germany's capacity to produce steel and coal, the raw materials for military conquest. Having failed to dismember Western Germany, the French government resorted the Briand approach which consisted in reaching agreements with Germany in order to bind her to France. [...]
[...] nature of the initial bargains biased the community in favour of France and Germany which were able subsequently to exercise a joint leadership over European affairs” Consequently, the pivotal role of the partnership can be explained by the symbolic dimension of the Franco-German alliance: as the founding fathers, they count more than other members and their union symbolises reconciliation, peace and solidarity. And the other members actually look for them to bridge their differences and lead the integration process because of this symbolic role. [...]
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