Germany and France are two of the six founding states of the European Union, which nowadays consists of 27 sovereign states. Having always played a leading role in the European Union, Germany and France currently struggle to make the Euro survive the Greek crisis.
After the Second World War, the European Union is set up by the six founder states with the goal to prevent further wars between the neighbors. During this time France is one of the most important powers in the European Union. It controls one quarter of Germany, where French troops are stationed. Still weakened by World War II, (West-) Germany only plays a minor role.
The reunion of West- and East-Germany helped the country to rise back to power. Germany is now the state with the strongest economy and France loses its role as predominant power. In 1990 Germany and France initiate the “Maastricht-Treaty”, which is still one of the most important documents of the European Union. The treaty lists all the criteria, states have to fulfill if they wish to join the union. In the following years many other projects that were already mentioned in the Maastricht Treaty such as a common currency and shared foreign and security policy were tackled by the two states. Germany and France therefore are often considered the “engine of the European Union”.
The current European Financial Crisis
As the two states with the strongest economy in Europe, Germany and France function as the main actors in the current crisis. Both Germany and France are among the main donors as far as financial aid for Greece is concerned; furthermore they decided about new laws concerning Greece and forced the struggling country towards a severe economic monetary policy. Despite disagreeing in certain points – France, for example, would like the European Union to interfere with the economy to a greater extent, which is a notion Germany strongly resents- both countries put on a united front when it came to solving the Eurozone Crisis. Currently, German Chancellor Merkel and French President Sarkozy are considering a modification of the EU treaty; the role of the ECB however, should remain untouched, as Merkel pointed out. The treaty changes are to provide the possibility of imposing a greater budget discipline on heavily indebted EU countries and give the European Court of Justice the means to penalize states that violate the treaty.
Picture: richterfoto: Fotolia