French President Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel signed the treaty in the historical town of Aachen near the French-German border. Thus, the treaty is also known as the ‘Aachen Treaty’. Both the states announced the signing of mutual agreements on the economic, defence and EU policies. However, a special comprehensive military treaty is believed was signed between them. Also, German Chancellor Merkel underlined the significance of the defence treaty during a press conference. Both leaders have agreed to cooperate in case France or Germany’s sovereignty was threatened.
At the same time, German Chancellor Merkel appealed to France to support the German proposal for a European Army. Merkel also expressed confidence at an independent and joint European Army being established soon. Nevertheless, the European Army would not be an alternative or a rival to the NATO military alliance, Merkel clarified. ‘The European Army would be established on the principles of the US-backed NATO. In fact, it would be complementary to the NATO, claimed Merkel. Albeit, the Franco-German treaty and the European army are said to be a strategy to sidetrack NATO.
For the last few months, France and Germany have been pressing their demand for the European army at the European Union (EU). Furthermore, the leaders of both countries have claimed that a European army under the German-French leadership, would aid the security of the European nations. Two months ago, Macron in an interview with a radio channel, said that the army would be necessary for protecting Europe against Russia, China and the United States. US President Donald Trump had heavily criticised the idea of the European army which Macron and Merkel had presented. However, European analysts claim that the French and German heads of the states are firm on their plan for a European army and the Elysee Treaty was signed keeping this very objective in mind.
The choice of venue for signing the agreement is said to bear specific symbolic importance. During the ninth century, Aachen was the capital of the Roman Empire which Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great, had spread across Europe. Thus, by picking the location for signing the Elysee Treaty, Macron and Merkel are said to have given a suggestive indication.
However, Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council has voiced concerns over the agreement warning that the Franco-German pact should not come at EU’s cost. Also, Czech politician and a Member of the European Parliament, Jan Zahradil has said that the Franco-German treaty, signed at Aachen, at the time of Brexit i.e. when the United Kingdom is withdrawing from the European Union, is noteworthy.