1.8 Cross-border cooperation
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International and national cooperation are essential for the German-Speaking Community. On the one hand, this is linked to the geographical situation of the German-speaking Community: in the middle of two European regions and at the border of several language areas. On the other hand, it also has to do with the wide range of competences and the small size of the German-speaking Community.
To allow young citizens to benefit most of this autonomy, the German-speaking Community must not be self-centered. It has to look for national and international cooperation in the field of youth policy in order to open up and to maximise its possibilities.
The German-speaking Community is active in european initiatives and networks such as the new European framework for cooperation in the youth field, the cooperation in the framework of the Greater-Region as well as some bilateral treaties.
In this context, being part of the Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps programme and having an own National Agency for these programmes is a precious added value for youth policy and young people in the German-speaking Community. The National Agency for Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps is managed by the Youth Office of the German-speaking Community (Jugendbüro der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft). The Youth Office also manages several other youth exchange programmes, such as Quebec-Wallonie-Bruxelles (a programme of the French Community) and Bel’J (a joint programme of the three Belgian Communities).
The German-speaking Community benefits greatly from the cooperation on European youth policy design and has close contacts with its national partners, the partners in the Greater-Region as well as other partner countries.
Regarding European cooperation, the three Belgian Communities work closely together in order to coordinate a single Belgian position regarding the competences under the responsibility of the Communities. The leading role and the role as Belgian spokesperson in the European Council are carried out in turn by all three Communities.
This interaction between the three Belgian Communities in the field of youth policy also exists in its own right at Community level. The German-speaking Community has cooperation agreements with the French Community and with Flanders. The Communities frequently share information regarding new developments, transfer knowledge or invite each other to participate in events. The three Communities also have a common programme for youth exchanges and projects for active citizenship. This programme is called ‘Bel’J’ and was initiated in march 2009 by the three Ministers for Youth. It gives young people between 12 and 30 the opportunity to discover the other Communities. Bel’J is managed by the Youth Office in the German-speaking Community.
The German-speaking Community is also part of the Greater Region (Großregion), which in brief is the aggregation of Saarland, Rheinland-Pfalz (Germany), Luxembourg, Lorraine (France), the Walloon Region, the French-speaking Community and the German-speaking Community. The countries and institutions of this region are co-operating in many respects to facilitate mobility for their inhabitants. Also the structure of the Euregio Maas-Rhine enables cooperation and exchange in the border region of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Euregio Maas-Rhine is a public-law foundation comprising the areas of the province Limburg in Flanders, the Walloon province of Liege, the areas of the German-speaking Community, the Regio Aachen in Germany and the southern part of province Limburg in The Netherlands. Moreover, the German-speaking Government is co-signer of the Benelux-Treaty and active partner in this cooperation.
Appart from the youth exchange programme Quebec-Wallonie-Bruxelles (a programme of the French Community), there aren't any initiatives with countries outside Europe in the German-speaking Community at the moment.