Why can't France solve its economic problems?

The Franco-German problems

At the end of the war, security and economic upturn are the main priorities in France. However, one is also aware of the extent to which the future of the country is directly linked to the internal situation in Germany. The German territories occupied by France as part of the war reparations, the Saarland and the Ruhr area, are among the richest and most productive coal basins in Europe, whose strategic importance can also be attributed to the fact that the coal and smelting industries of the Benelux countries mainly produce for the domestic markets.

The problem is made even more difficult by the question of cartels. Despite the bombing raids by the Allies and despite the massive destruction, German industry was able to keep its production capacities almost at the pre-war level. In addition, thanks to the extensive economic aid that West Germany received under the Marshall Plan, it was possible to reduce the existing trade deficit and set up a new currency system. In the West, the revival of capitalism in Germany is seen as an effective protection against communism. Cartels are gradually emerging again, in which the largest German companies are concentrated and trying to control the internal market and level competition through sales offices. However, the Allies see the coal and steel cartels as a relic of the Corporations who contributed to the destructive power of the Third Reich between the two world wars. In France, people are also aware that their own industries are not in competition with the German cartels. Control over the coal basins and the unbundling of heavy industry thus represent a great challenge in Franco-German post-war relations and an indispensable prerequisite for European integration. The Saar and Ruhr questions must be raised to ensure peace and prosperity on the European continent peaceful way to be resolved. Only a European solution seems to be able to bring about permanent relaxation.

In an effort to restore the complete territorial sovereignty of West Germany, the German Chancellor Adenauer publicly spoke out in favor of a Franco-German union several times in 1950. In November 1949 he even presented a plan for the union of Franco-German heavy industry and advocated the establishment of an international authority to monitor the coal and industrial regions of Germany, Belgium and France. The German Chancellor hopes to bring about a peaceful solution by including the Saar and Ruhr questions in a larger European framework on the basis of recognition of Germany's equal rights vis-à-vis its respective partners.

In view of its political and military weakness, the FRG can only gain from European unification, because it promises a relaxation of sanctions and equality. Since the supranational control is also being accepted by the other partner countries, the creation of the High Authority for Coal and Steel allows Germany to overcome its inferior position.

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