France and Germany have a long tradition of political and economic cooperation. Our countries are dependent on each other. Politically, because as the biggest countries in the European Union the nations inevitably have a leadership role they have to jointly perform. Economically, as each country is the other’s main export market.
Furthermore, French and German industry are closely linked via cross-border supply chains and innovation networks. This mutual dependence is a trump card that can be played in global competition and to make sure our voice is heard on the global political stage.
However, in view of the crisis situation in Europe and economic stagnation, we have to imbue this relationship with new life.
Reforms have to be initiated on both sides of the River Rhine. France must overcome its weak growth above all. To do that, it has to introduce the principle of “flexicurity” recommended by the European Union, a model that links flexibility with security for employees.
France also has to get labor costs under control to create new jobs. Germany has to maintain its competitiveness. For that to happen, investment has to be stimulated and the efficiency of the services sector improved. The country must also ensure the sustainability of energy reforms in agreement with its European neighbors.
In addition, France and Germany have to instigate either a joint industrial policy, or at least a closely coordinated one, in three central areas.
This concerns, firstly, the expansion and modernization of Europe’s entire infrastructure, from road and rail to telecommunications, sewage systems and energy supply. The yearly financing requirements to achieve that would amount to €80 billion ($99.2 billion), money that can and must come from private financing sources.
Liquidity is available worldwide. To attract investors, the European Union has to offer lucrative conditions and a stable legal framework.