Germany, France Reinforce Cooperation to Counter Fraying Europe

(Bloomberg) -- Germany and France will deepen their 55-year-old alliance as the main defenders of European Union cooperation seek to counter forces tearing at the bloc’s bonds.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron will sign a treaty in the German border town of Aachen on Jan. 22. The pact, which was signed off by Merkel’s cabinet on Wednesday, calls for joint efforts on security, economic and environmental policy and extends the landmark Elysee agreement between the former adversaries from 1963.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the Aachen Treaty is meant to send a clear message at a time when populists are campaigning for what he called “national egotism.”

As Germany and France renew their vows ahead of the U.K.’s exit from the EU, the risks to the bloc’s solidarity remain acute. These were underscored by efforts to forge a Euroskeptic alliance ahead of European Parliament elections in May. Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini is meeting Wednesday with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s governing party, in the latest stop of his recruiting drive.

While the Franco-German accord lacks concrete projects, the two countries plan to cooperate on issues ranging from education and foreign policy to climate and culture.

“Closer cooperation does not come at the cost of our sovereignty, but makes us stronger,” Maas said in an interview with the RND media group.

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