Lt./mic. Berlin/Paris Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) and French Secretary of State for Europe Laurence Boone have seen the recent Franco-German upset as a limited difference and as evidence of the close cooperation between the two countries. Baerbock and Boone spoke at the inaugural meeting of the Franco-German parliamentary committee after the elections in both countries. With a view to the joint meeting of the two governments, which was recently postponed to next year, Baerbock said that relations between Paris and Berlin are “deeper than ever before” and because they are so deep, some things have to be discussed in advance in order to achieve good results. Boone said the two sides were “working more closely together,” including on defense. Now the joint government conference should bring results, this requires preparation if the results are not just apparent.
Ironically, however, a controversy arose in the German-French Parliamentary Assembly with regard to the joint armaments projects. The assembly dates back to an agreement between the two parliaments in 2019. It consists of 50 MPs from both sides, who meet at least twice a year. Before the first meeting after the elections in France and Germany, French MEPs called for a working group on armaments and defence. Three other working groups will deal with the future of Europe, with questions of energy sovereignty and with the implementation of EU directives.
As a possible topic, the joint combat aircraft system FCAS is mentioned in Paris, to which the Bundestag has to give its approval in the various stages of development. The prevailing impression there is that the German side is not interested in an intensive parliamentary exchange. The German co-chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly, Nils Schmid (SPD), on the other hand, argues that it makes more sense if the defense committees of the two national parliaments exchange information directly with each other on armament issues.
On the German side, the Franco-German differences in this department are pointed out. On the one hand, the armaments industry in France is much more state-controlled, i.e. it is open to political influence. On the other hand, the German parliament has far more competence than the French in matters of armaments and defense; all armaments orders that exceed a volume of 25 million euros must be approved by the defense committee. The German counter-proposal is therefore that the chairmen of the two parliamentary committees should cooperate directly and draw up joint recommendations for resolutions, which could then be debated by the Franco-German plenary session.
In the previous session of the Franco-German Parliamentary Assemblies, four working groups were set up, including one on foreign and defense policy. At the inaugural meeting of the assembly in March 2019, the then President of the Bundestag, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), told the FAZ that “more intensive relationships, especially in the substantive questions of defense” are the order of the day if you want to make progress on joint armament projects and a security strategy. At the beginning of the joint conference, his successor Bärbel Bas (SPD) appealed that Germany and France should not allow themselves to be divided in view of the Russian war of aggression.