France President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are marking the 50th anniversary of an historic speech seen as a key moment in the post-WWII reconciliation between the two countries.
Addressing an audience of young Germans in their own language in 1962, French President Charles de Gaulle said they were “children of a great nation which had made great errors”.
The meeting is to be largely ceremonial, German officials say.
Both countries are working together to address the current euro debt crisis.
Apart from the ceremonies, the two leaders were expected to discuss plans by EADS and BAE Systems to merge – creating the world’s largest aerospace and defence firm.
France’s finance minister says the planned deal needs close scrutiny raising fears of delays through political wrangling. Airbus maker EADS is anxious for stakeholders France and Germany to set out their position on the merger before an informal British deadline in October.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman told journalists there would “of course be no decisions this Saturday” on that or any other issue.
Charles de Gaulle’s speech was seen as a highly significant moment, when France sought partnership with its erstwhile invader.
Now the Franco-German relationship is the core of the eurozone, even though when President Francois Hollande won power earlier this year, it did not seem to be at its strongest.
President Francois Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel had different policies on how to save the euro – the German leader had a more austere policy on public spending than he did.
He says they speak as one on insisting on strict conditions for bailouts.
Francois Hollande may have softened his belief that economies can be stimulated by government spending, and Angela Merkel may have softened her position on the European Central Bank being more willing to help struggling governments.
But issues remain, particularly over how fast to move towards a unified European banking system. Charles de Gaulle’ speech has led to a partnership but one where there are still rows.