1.8 Cross-border cooperation
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Ensuring successful cooperation, exchanges and partnerships with other EU Member States is one of French youth policies which seek to increase and diversify mobility offers, especially in Europe – in other words, encourage exchanges between Member States’ youth.
Such cooperation takes several forms:
Bilateral agreements such as the OFAJ (Franco-German Youth Office), which was created by the Élysée Treaty in 1963. The OFAJ is an international organization with its head office in Paris; its function is to support and develop all types of exchanges between the two States’ youth, helping consolidate Franco-German relations through a range of mobility and language exchange programmes intended for children and young people, including jobseekers.
The Council of Europe
France is also a founder Member State of the Council of Europe, an intergovernmental organization in existence since 1949 that brings together 47 Member States with the main objective of promoting and ensuring respect for human rights. It monitors Member States’ progress in this area and makes recommendations via specialized independent monitoring bodies. The Council encourages greater youth participation in its “co-management” system. Representatives of youth NGOs (non-government organizations) sit alongside civil servants on committees tasked with defining youth priorities and coming up with recommendations and programs, in such decision-making bodies as the Comité Directeur Européen pour la Jeunesse (CDEJ – European Steering Committee for Youth), which fosters intergovernmental cooperation in the youth sector and serves as a means for comparing national policies, and the Conseil Consultatif pour la Jeunesse (CCJ – Advisory Council on Youth), which brings together thirty representatives of non-government youth organizations and networks.
Local partnerships between European Regions
Local authorities also play a significant role in the development of European partnerships. Some regions are trying to set up new cooperation activities between young Europeans.
The Hauts-de France Region for example has annually hosted the Weimar Triangle Youth Summit (Sommet des Jeunes du Triangle de Weimar) since 2001 – an event in which 45 young German, Polish and French participants get together to debate and brainstorm on a topic of current European concern. The summit is the result of a trilateral agreement between the Hauts-de France, the Province of Silesia in Poland, and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany.
Mutual learning sessions between European policy-makers
Participation of those involved in development and implementation of national youth polices in meetings, workgroups and mutual learning seminars organized by Member States in order to exchange viewpoints on practices and issues involved in youth policies, in the context of the Open Coordination Method (OCM).
International cooperation in the youth field is characterized by cross-ministerial action, mainly on the part of the Ministries responsible for youth affairs and sport, national education, and foreign affairs, which have formed special partnerships with international institutions and organizations.
The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF)
The OIF Composed of 88 States and governments, its activities focus on implementation of international policy and multilateral cooperation designed to “promote the French language and cultural and linguistic diversity” and “peace, democracy and human rights”, “support school education, training, higher education and research”, and “develop cooperation at the service of sustainable development”.
Among other bodies, the OIF cooperates with the CONFEJES – French-Speaking World Conference of Ministries in charge of fYouth and Sports (Conférence des Ministres de la Jeunesse et des Sports de la Francophonie ), whose role is to “work for promotion of youth, sports and recreational activities in the Francophone world”.CONFEJES policies are designed to benefit its Member States’ youth and form part of the Francophone Youth Strategy 2015-2022 (Stratégie Jeunesse de la Francophonie 2015-2022), whose aims are “empowerment and self-fulfilment”, “accountability, participation and civic commitment based on democratic values”, “equality of the sexes, “accompaniment and support of all stakeholders in Francophony, “Francophone commitment and solidarity, the promotion of the French language”, and “appropriation of the concepts of sustainable development”.
The strategy is based on “partnership, subsidiarity and measurability” (projects are assessed according to indicators defined by OIF Member States).
the OFQJ - Franco-Québécois Youth Office
As a OIF member, the government of Quebec signed a memorandum of understanding with the French government on 9 February 1968, which led to setup of the OFQJ - Franco-Québécois Youth Office.
The OFQJ is a bi-governmental body active in France and Quebec, governed by a Board of Directors chaired by the French minister responsible for Youth and the Quebec Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, and by the French Minister in charge of Youth . The Office participates in bringing together young French and Québécois citizens between the ages of 18 and 35 through mobility programmes designed to increase student employability by complementing and improving on their training (through placements in professional environments), as well as developing networks of partners and raising awareness on entrepreneurial values. “France-Canada” and “France-Quebec” mobility agreements facilitate exchanges and mobility of “young professionals, jobseekers, students, apprentices, artists and culture professionals”.
Local authorities also undertake action targeting youth, in particular in regions that encourage French youth’s international commitment through international cooperation agreements.
Since 2015 the ministry responsible for foreign affairs and the DAECT – Delegation for External Action by Local Authorities (Délégation pour l’Action Extérieure des Collectivités Territoriales) annualy launch a call for projects in support of decentralised cooperation, Youth and European and international mobility (“Jeunesse et mobilité européenne et internationale”) intended for local authorities and concerning young people between the ages of 16 and 30. It mobilises several French and foreign local authorities and provided more than 100 young people with the opportunity to commit to decentralised cooperation projects.
the Delegation for the external action of local authorities of the Ministry in charge of Foreign Affairs, in partnership with the Ministry in charge of agriculture and the Ministry of National Education and Youth, has launched since 2015 an annual "Youth and European and International Mobility" call for projects aimed at local authorities such as municipalities, wishing to involve young people in decentralized cooperation projects.
At regional level, Regions also have a range of aids to mobility on offer to young people (apprentices, upper secondary and university students, and jobseekers). They enable beneficiaries to set up projects in "southern countries" or go on language study stays there to round out their training. Some regions have their own European and international mobility platforms bringing together international mobility developers from NGOs, local authorities and government departments tasked with promoting French youth mobility on the international scene.
These projects enable reinforcement or initiation of partnerships with other foreign local authorities.