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France and Germany aim for January 22 summit

PARIS — France and Germany are trying to orchestrate a summit meeting on January 22 as they aim to make progress on difficult issues like energy and defense, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said Monday.

Speaking alongside her German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, who was in the French capital for various meetings including with President Emmanuel Macron, Colonna said that both governments would meet on January 22 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty that laid the foundation for Franco-German partnership after World War II.

“We are working hard so that the next anniversary of the Elysée Treaty, which is so important, will be celebrated in a great way,” Colonna said. “See you on January 22.”

Relations between Paris and Berlin have been thorny recently. A joint Franco-German Cabinet meeting in late October was postponed at short notice amid big differences on energy and defense, and a meeting between Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that month was also overshadowed by tensions.

The Cabinet meeting is now scheduled to take place in January, although it is not yet completely decided whether it will take place on the 22nd or around that date, given that there’s also a meeting of French and German lawmakers planned to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty, which might make it difficult to schedule all events in one day, officials said.

Paris and Berlin are currently working on a joint declaration covering various areas of political cooperation, including energy and defense, which is supposed to be signed at the joint Cabinet meeting. “We are working on a declaration and I am very optimistic,” Colonna said.

Both sides might also agree on further subsidy and industrial policy measures — a step that might be necessary if the U.S. does not drop controversial trade measures that the EU sees as discriminatory and which risk drawing investment away from Europe and toward the U.S.

Germany’s Baerbock said she was “very positive” that both sides would be able to agree on a joint declaration and “make a big step forward with regard to the Franco-German government consultations in the fields of energy, security and also the exchanges in the every day life [of citizens].”

Paris and Berlin have also taken “a great step forward” on their next-generation fighter jet, the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) that is supposed to be operational as of 2040, Baerbock said. The German defense ministry said Friday that an agreement had been reached to move toward the next development stage of the fighter plane.

“This is a fundamental step,” Colonna said. “It doesn’t mean that we are at the end of the road, but it allows us to assume that this project is going to happen.”

Baerbock will also meet Macron later Monday. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, who will be in Paris on Tuesday for talks on industrial policy, is also expected to meet Macron.

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