For a long time, when a French enterprise and a German company were mentioned in the same sentence, it was to better compare and even contrast the “French touch” on the one hand and the “Deutsche Qualität” on the other. Rarely was this done to recognize the excellence of their cooperation.

EADS – through Airbus, its aeronautics subsidiary – was an exception at that time. Things have probably changed since the French-German Digital Conference which took place at the end of last year. At this event, together with Christophe de Maistre (CEO of Siemens France) I presented Atos’ latest digital solutions for the Internet of Things, smart factories (what we call “Industry 4.0”) and even cybersecurity to President of the Republic, François Hollande, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. The Hoox phone – one of the most secure smartphones in the world –attracted considerable attention from the heads of states, who showed a personal interest…

The most important French-German partnership since Airbus

While this 20-minute presentation at the Élysée Palace was indeed an illustration of the work undertaken between Atos and Siemens since 2011, it by no means is the pinnacle of our joint success. Our strategic alliance – which began four years ago when Atos acquired Siemens’ IT activities and more than 30,000 engineers transferred to Atos. The partnership was recently strengthened when a global IT contract worth more than EUR 8 billion was extended until the end of 2021 and our joint R&D program was scaled up in the field of digital transformation.

The status of  Societas Europaea

This partnership reinforces the European nature of Atos, which nonetheless remains a global company with almost 100,000 employees on five continents. Europe forms part of the Group’s DNA, and this much is set down in its articles of association, as Atos has been a European company (societas europaea) operating under a single unique and common legal form within the EU Member States since 2012. This status – for which I initiated the transposal into French law in 2005 as Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry – is also evidenced by the fact that Atos has two head offices: one in France (in Bezons, Paris), and the other in Germany (in Munich). Prime Minister Manuel Valls came to visit our Munich head office last spring, recognizing in passing the boldness of French companies on the other side of the Rhine.

Bavaria is traditionally conducive to French-German innovation

Admittedly, Bavaria is a state that is traditionally conducive to French-German innovation, as is evidenced by the legacy of Count Maximilian von Montgelas. This high-ranking Bavarian official, from the Duchy of Savoy based on his paternal lineage, strived at the end of the 18th century to modernize the State system by promoting the exchange of ideas, capital and people between France and Bavaria in the wake of the Enlightenment.

A trusted data space

Nowadays, we could add “digital data” to this list of three factors. So, two years on from calling for a trusted data space that would enable completely free movement of data within the European Union, the German Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information will finally force web heavyweights to store EU users’ personal data in Europe. Along with data, digital is becoming the key component of the French-German engine.