France and Germany signed off on a deal Tuesday that moves the countries closer to NATO independence and a potential European army, according to Newsweek.
The leaders of both countries have expressed concerns over the state of European security in the era of President Donald Trump, especially as Trump appears to gravitate away from allies and toward Russian President Vladimir Putin.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel signed the Franco-German Treaty on Cooperation and Integration in Aachen on Tuesday, exactly 56 years after the two European powers signed the Élysée Treaty, ending a centuries-long rivalry. Though the neighbors have feuded throughout much of their history, France and Germany now find themselves closely aligned at a time of shifting geopolitical dynamics.
The estranged relationship between President Donald Trump and his French and German counterparts has contributed to European anxieties over security, and both Macron and Merkel have called for the formation of a European army. Merkel said Tuesday that Germany was "committed to developing a common military culture, a common defense industry and a common line on arms exports" and that the new agreement "contributes to the creation of a European army."
After signing the agreement, Macron tweeted: "Our duty with Germany is to make Europe a shield to protect our peoples from the world’s changes. That is the meaning behind the Treaty of Aachen that I just signed with Chancellor Angela Merkel."
The French president said back in November that Europe needs to protect itself from “Russia, China and even the United States of America,” to which Trump responded via Twitter:
"President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia. Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!"
While Macron and Merkel themselves have developed a tight relationship—so much so that one elderly French woman mistook them for a married couple during November's World War I memorial trip—both have warned of nationalist currents that could tear their nations apart. In a writeup on the Treaty of Aachen posted to the French presidency's official website Sunday, the government assured readers that the document would never return the disputed Alsace-Lorraine border territory to Germany, nor would it force the local population to learn German nor would it allow France to "give up its sovereignty, its identity."