In the real world, unfortunately, there are no superheroes to save the day. When the destiny of the European Union and its achieved level of integration – what is called the acquis in the Eurolanguage – is in peril, the aforementioned sentence does not make any exception. There is something, though, in the European Union, that almost resembles to the figure of the superhero: the French-German axis.
The special characteristics that form this partnership are unique: a shared past, made just of war, skepticism, thorny conflicts and unparalleled hate. This is what, after all, the whole European Union is about: resolving conflicts in front of judges, with votes and rulings, not in front of battlefields, with guns and bombs.
Make no mistake: the name that has been given to this special partnership does subtly suggest a negative connotation, but this is not true in any way. In fact, throughout the history of Europe after 1945, the special relationship between Germany and France has proven multiple times to be the saviour of European integration. The Elysée Treaty of 1964 laid, in fact, the groundwork for this partnership, and further reinstated the mutual trust between them that had been torn apart by two World Wars.
The cooperation between Berlin and Paris has also been the main engine for the machine that is nowadays’ European Union. The synergy between the Elysée and the German Chancellery is of utmost importance for the EU, and for those who study its development throughout history.
Even if it has been relevant in the past, since 2004 it is vital for the future of the EU: the stasis in which it has found itself after the repeal of the Constitutional Treaty might be threatening for the very existence of the Union. In a continent scattered by many elections that gave relevance, if not the keys themselves, for government, social insecurity and mounting Euroscepticism, it is now important more than ever that the European Union gets back on track of “ever closer Union”.
The shyness of the Council proposals, and the low impact force of those of the Parliament and Member States, have put in jeopardy the very essence of the EU. The EU, therefore, direly needs to awake from its eternal sleep and finally put itself in motion, lest face disruption and disintegration. The main actor that can achieve good results is, indeed, the French-German Axis: being the two largest economies and State Founders, they only have the political capital needed to face such challenge.
A factor that smooths the process is, indeed, the political credibility and charisma of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, and Emmanuel Macron, the President of France. The former, affectionately called Mutti Angela Queen of Europe, has always positioned herself on a very pro-European platform; the latter is, instead, the only candidate who vigorously campaigned in favour of the European Union, who made his first appearance to electors as President with the Ode to the Joy , and who delivered a powerful speech on the European Union last Tuesday during the European Parliament plenary.
Since his election, Emmanuel Macron has arranged several meetings and phone calls with Angela Merkel. The last one, which happened just last Thursday, can be included in this historical partnership. Even though Angela Merkel might be under pressure by her party to soften her pro-European stance, Emmanuel Macron’s impetus will probably increase the stake of that summit’s results.
It goes without saying that politics is about compromise – and, if you are not familiar with it, EU politics is even more -, but the proposals brought forward by Macron and Merkel might be decisive for the future of the European Union.
The political projects that both leaders have in mind cover a wide range of subjects: from the reform of the Eurozone to the next European Elections set to be in May 2019, from the international relations to the trade deals, going through the Common Defence – the hottest and most important topic currently on the table – and migration.
Therefore, the harmonious collaboration between two countries, who used to be at war with each other roughly ever 15 years, are the only hope that is left for the European Union. And the role of pro-Europeans should be just like that: support the French-German partnership, or say goodbye to the EU.