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Celebrating the Franco-German friendship

Oped YDE

January 22. A date is worth a thousand words. Since 1963 with the Elysée treaty, reinforced in 2019 with the Aix-La-Chapelle one, the French and German heads of State have been enshrining the friendships between our countries thanks to bilateral agreements. Wars and fights are over, now cooperation is the keyword of our relationship.

This January 22, we, young citizens from these two countries, call for further integration between our two people.

When our leaders signed peace, it had been their citizens that made the friendship come true. Of course the EU helped by offering freedom of movements and business between our countries. But it is the associations, the school teachers, mayors of small towns, talented artists or bosses of companies across the border that made the mind change and heal the wounds of centuries of prejudices.

Thanks to the Franco-German Youth Office, 9 millions of youngsters met in the last six decades. It has successfully bridged the gap between our people by reinforcing the cultural exchange of students. We support the Office as well as all the twinings that make us more keen to learn about and respect our differences. The more the merrier. We have to enlarge these collaborations in order to include most of the young, especially in cross border areas, into such programs.

More than that, the Franco-German relationship has to focus on every citizen. Making the last stereotypes and cliché fall. Telling every French kid that learning German isn’t a punishment but a chance for a European mobility. Explaining Germans that French aren’t lazy because they launch strikes but because it’s in their very nature of mobilising. Understanding each other better is at the core of every relationship, we need to promote even more our languages especially in the aftermath of Brexit.

Franco-German cooperation has been established for decades, also through the citizens of our two countries. The efforts must continue: we need to encourage intercultural exchanges between the youngest of us so that they are no longer mere spectators of a match between Les Bleus and the Mannschaft, but become real players in Franco-German relations. This would enable them, through cross-border sporting competitions for example, to learn about the culture of the "Other one" on the ground and to stimulate their learning of Europe.

Finally, as members of youth political organisations, we can’t leave the politics behind. The establishment of the Franco-German Parliamentary Assembly in 2019 is splendid progress that needs to be highlighted. In that wake, we can quickly move towards a Youth Franco-German Parliamentary Assembly that would take resolutions and provide some guidance for the policies that affect young French and German.

Within our own political organisations too, we can act to improve the Franco-German friendship. We use this January 22 to get closer to our counterparts from each side of the Rhine. These meetings will ensure that we get to know each other better as well as the political background. We also would like to set up an appointment next year, when we will be able to access our achievements during a joint event.

Because we are as French and German as we are Europeans, because cooperation means better understanding we strongly advocate for a tighter integration between our two countries. The leaders and institutions have done and are still doing their share, we believe that is now time for the youth to take our destiny in hand. As our links will grow stronger as our friendship grows, we count on each young to make the Franco-German cooperation a daily reality.

List of signatories:
Auguste OTT President, Jeunes Démocrates - Emile LUSIGNAN Vice-President, Jeunes Démocrates in charge of Europe - Emilie CRENNER Regional Leader, Jeunes Démocrates Grand Est - Camille PETITJEAN President, Jeunes Démocrates Alsace - Asier AREITIO President, Young Democrats for Europe - Ugo ROSTAING Secretary General, Young Democrats for Europe - Sergio SOARES Spokesperson, Young Democrats for Europe - François DOGON Bureau Member, Young Democrats for Europe - Jessica KLUG Bureau Member, Jung Freie Wähler - Joshua WITTMANN President, Jung Freie Wähler Baden-Württemberg - Lisa JECKEL President, Jung Freie Wähler Rheinland-Pfalz