This year’s THESEUS Conference “France and Germany in the EU – 50 years after Elysée. The couple viewed by their European partners”, co-organised by TEPSA and the University of Cologne, took place at the Representation of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia to the EU in Brussels on 6 and 7 December 2012.
Building up on a 50 years’ history of Franco-German relationship, the conference raised the question: What role the Franco-German couple can and will play in the future Europe? The Elysée Treaty, signed 50 years ago by Konrad Adenauer and Charles De Gaulle, can be considered as the beginning of a unique partnership that has played since then a fundamental role in the European integration process. However, none of that would have been possible if the bilateral initiatives had not been endorsed by other member states. Often Franco-German initiatives are characterised as compromise that could prepare the ground for agreements between all member states. Can and will this situation continue in the light of the current crisis? How is the relationship perceived by their European partners from North, South, Central and Eastern Europe?
The conference brought together researchers and politicians from a cross-section of EU member states, such as: Philippe de Schoutheete (Former Belgian Ambassador to the EU), Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (Member of the European Parliament), Alfred Grosser (Sciences Po Paris), William Paterson (Aston University, Birmingham), Gianni Bonvicini (Instituto Affari Internazionali, Rome) and Atila Eralp (Middle East Technical University, Ankara). After a short historical look back, Franco-German convergences and divergences nowadays were explored using the two examples of Euro crisis and EU external action.
In the evening of 6 December the THESEUS Award for Outstanding Research was remitted by Catherine Day, Secretary-General of the European Commission, to Brigid Laffan, Professor of European Politics at the University College Dublin for her outstanding academic record in the field of European integration. The THESEUS Award for Promising Research was discerned to Theresa Kuhn and Claudia Schrag Sternberg, both University of Oxford.
Conference background papers: ” The Franco-German couple: Potentials and limitations” by Peter Valant, Marie Curie EXCAT Fellow and “Which Future for the EU: Political Union, Directoire or Differentiated Integration?” by Laura Ventura, Project Officer, TEPSA.