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Support for the Chapelle de la Rencontre project

Support for the Chapelle de la Rencontre project

Due to its location on the France-Germany border in the Quartier du Port du Rhin in Strasbourg, the Kapelle der Begegnung (chapel of encounters) is intended to help strengthen social cohesion in this area, which is currently undergoing major restructuring, and to strengthen and intensify Franco-German relations. Built as a sign of reconciliation after the Second World War, this chapel represents a mindset and history that the two churches (EKIBA-Protestant Church in Baden, and UEPAL – Union of Protestant Churches of Alsace and Lorraine) through their representatives (Dr. Jochen Cornelius- Bundschuh and Christian Albecker) wish to revive today.

A large call for donations to finance the construction work, which began in spring 2021, was launched so that the project can become a symbolic meeting place between French and Germans, but also between people of different origins and religions.

Additional Information: https://www.paroissebordsdurhin.eu/

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University programmes, markets and pétanque: the diverse partnership between Aix-en-Provence and Tübingen

University programmes, markets and pétanque: the diverse partnership between Aix-en-Provence and Tübingen

The 60-year partnership between Tübingen and Aix-en-Provence has successfully stood the test of time. The agreement, signed in 1960, aims for close cooperation in the fields of culture and cultural heritage. The two university cities are the setting for a diverse and sometimes surprising partnership initiative. Whether pupil, student, culture lover or sports fan, there is something for everyone.

‘Aix’ and Tübingen are primarily university cities, and it is this special feature that is at the heart of the partnership. In addition to the exchange of schools, the two cities are at the origin of a unique and original university course. Bearing the name TübAix, it enables students in France (University of Aix-Marseille) and Germany (Eberhard-Karl University of Tübingen) to study history in order to obtain a double degree.

However, the aim of this partnership is also to share the identity and folklore of a city with its partner city. The tradition of markets, which is very important in Aix-en-Provence, is a good example of this. Every year French manufacturers and retailers bring the sunny taste of the south to the Tübingen ‘Umbrisch-Provenzalischen Genusstagen’ (Umbrian Provincial Days of Indulgance). In return, when Christmas comes, German retailers will delight visitors at Aix’s ‘Internationalen Markt der Partnerstädte’ (International Market of Twin Cities) with pretzels and mulled wine. It’s not just food that brings cities together, however, but also art and literature. In the cities of Cezanne and Manet it would be unthinkable not to have art and paintings. The Leonard et ses amis association, which brings together hobby painters from Aix, has a close relationship with a hobby painters association from Tübingen. Exhibitions are organised in both cities every year. The members now know each other very well and want to meet again and again. That too is part of the partnership between the two cities.

Even petanque has crossed the border. The famous sport from Marseille has found enthusiastic players in the Tübingen club “La Fanny Joyeuse e.V.”. One question remains: when will the tournament between the twin cities take place?

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Enterprise Europe Network: local companies are looking for international opportunities

Enterprise Europe Network: local companies are looking for international opportunities

The Enterprise Europe Network is an information and advice centre that was created in 2008 by the European Commission. With this framework, 3,000 experts from 60 different countries support SMEs who wish to develop international business and project partnerships.

The network relies on local branches, most of which are located in the regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry. For the French border region Grand Est, for example, there are two contact points, the regional ‘Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie’ (CCI) and Grand E-Nov+, which in turn is a branch of the CCI. The geographical location of this region, on the border with three countries, creates an special, international openness. For Ursula Martin, lawyer and consultant, “the natural market for these companies is cross-border”. “For an Alsatian company, for example, Germany is closer and easier to reach than some regions in the south of France,” she continues.

The challenge of EEN support is to take these companies even further, both geographically and in terms of their ability to innovate. The accompaniment begins with an assessment, which is then used as the basis for the accompaniment. Together with the companies, the consultants work on a strategy by offering training courses, particularly in the area of ​​legislation, but also providing assistance in applying for financing or in preparing (international) applications. When they are ready, the companies are put in touch with potential business partners.

More information: https://een.ec.europa.eu/

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The Franco-German Voice of the Youth

The Franco-German Voice of the Youth

Like other large French and German companies, Europa-Park wanted to take part in the ‘Franco-German Voices of Young People’ project, based on a large-scale citizen survey of young people: https://www.soscisurvey.de/consultation_france-deutschland/
A great opportunity for French and German teenagers to make their voice heard! 

The initiative is under the high patronage of the presidents of the Franco-German friendship groups of the National Assembly and the German Bundestag (Mr. Christophe Arend and Mr. Gunther Krichbaum). The aim is to build a bridge between the two countries, and to develop and implement ideas. After analysing the information collected, a feedback phase is organised in the National Assembly to start implementing the ideas received. There will also be joint events in several French and German areas.

The survey is open to all young people between the ages of 16 and 30, and participation is possible until 30th July 2021.
https://www.ffa-dff.org/files/2021/re%CC%80glement%20F%20duree.pdf

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Meeting with the French ambassador in Germany

Meeting with the French ambassador in Germany

Invited by the Franco-German Committee for Cross-Border Cooperation (AGZ), Ms. Anne-Marie Descôtes, French Ambassador in Berlin, was received by Toni Vetrano, the mayor of the city of Kehl, and had the opportunity to exchange views with Mr. Michael Mack.

The city of Kehl is an important engine of European cooperation and is the location of the headquarters of several important Franco-German organisations, such as the Euro Institute, Infobest or the European Consumer Centre, as well as the Joint Secretariat of the Upper Rhine Conference. The visit was about the partnership between various structures of German-French cooperation, with many current topics, such as the problems of commuters and the expected consequences of the current health crisis, being discussed. The Ambassador recognised the key role played by these structures and the committee in strengthening the transnational links between France and Germany, which are now more necessary than ever to make Europe tangible and useful for its citizens. On the evening of the start of the conference on the future of Europe, on 9th May in Strasbourg, the ambassador’s visit to Kehl was therefore of great importance.

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Company Discovery Day

Company Discovery Day

The Franco-German Discovery Day was launched in 2006 on the initiative of the French and German governments, giving schoolchildren from both countries an insight into the Franco-German working world. This offer is open to all young people, especially those who have limited access to international exchange programs. The initiative aims to arouse interest in young people regarding in the language and culture of the other country.

More than a quarter of the 5000 employees at Europa-Park are French citizens. Many of the current projects are oriented towards France; Franco-German friendship was an important concern of the Mack family from the very beginning of the foundation of their company.

A discussion forum was created in digital format together with a BTS class (Brevet de Technicien Supérieur – technical training class) at the René Cassin-Gymnasium in Strasbourg, in which numerous questions about the organisation of the company and human resources in a Franco-German context were discussed.  The pupils and their teachers then had the opportunity to learn further detailed information from the representatives of Europa-Park in a question-and-answer session.

Further information: http://www.ofaj.org/programmes-formations/journee-decouverte.html

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Meeting with the Committee on Cross-Border Cooperation

Meeting with the Committee on Cross-Border Cooperation

As a priority measure of the Aachen Treaty, the AGZ is intended to support and strengthen cooperation at the borders by offering concrete solutions to the difficulties that the residents of the border regions may face in their daily lives, especially in the areas of transport, employment, healthcare and development.

Composed of representatives from the state, the regional authorities close to the border (states, border regions and departments, Eurodistricts) and parliamentarians from both countries, the work program of the AGZ moves within the subject areas of economy/energy/environment, transport infrastructure and education.

The exchange of views was therefore focused on the institutions that are active at the Franco-German level and on the most important structural reforms currently being planned (transport infrastructure, education and training systems, cultural policy), but also on the administrative constraints that companies face and want to develop further on the other side of the Rhine, as well as the inadequacies of Rheinish integration during the extraordinary context of the COVID-19 crisis.

Additional Information: https://www.agz-cct.eu/agz-cct-de

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Meeting with the Centre for European Consumer Protection

Meeting with the Centre for European Consumer Protection

With its 47-strong team (including 27 lawyers), the Centre for European Consumer Protection handles 18,000 cross-border complaints per year. It thus offers a range of free and specialised services for consumers in the border region, particularly in the areas of tourism, electronic commerce, the automotive industry, real estate and services.

The EVZ played a major role in the COVID-19 crisis and provided the residents of the border regions with practical and up-to-date information about the respective regulations on both sides of the Rhine.

As this crisis had a subsequent direct impact on cross-border workers and the social climate in German companies, the unequal treatment (‘double taxation’ of cross-border workers) with regard to short-time work benefits (‘KUG’) among French and German workers was the focus of the exchange between the honorary consul and the representatives of the ZEV.

Additional Information: http://www.cec-zev.eu

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The ‘EuroRegion Alsace’, an administrative renaissance of Alsace

The ‘EuroRegion Alsace’, an administrative renaissance of Alsace

It is a small revolution that would take place in Alsace on 1st January 2021. It is true that the two departments of Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin is united in a joint ‘Collectivité européenne d’Alsace’ (CeA). This community takes over the responsibility of the two departments and gains new privileges.

Long asked for, long awaited, this association was negotiated between the state government and local lawmakers from 2018. With the decision, Alsace actually wishes to present itself as a pioneer in the decentralisation process. But the experiment could have a successor, at least that is what the French government wants to aim for. “The community is ahead of tomorrow’s institutional scheme,” said Edouard Philippe at the end of October 2018 after signing the joint declaration on the CEA.

The community will primarily be endowed with specific educational skills. Of course, it will determine how it wants to teach the regional culture and bilingualism to the pupils and students. The authority over the highways and motorways, which the previous departments had not yet transferred (more than 300 km), is delegated to the community. This decision should allow local MPs to charge a fee for heavy commercial vehicles that have been congesting the region’s road network since 2005 and the introduction of a fee in Germany. The CEA will also be gaining new responsibilities in the field of tourism, with the community being able to promote its tourist activities throughout France and abroad, a particularly important point for this border district. The particular geographic location of the CEA also means that the central government might delegate which competences have responsibilities in the area of ​​cross-border cooperation. Through an Alsatian department council, the community can now determine the most important goals and questions of cooperation with Germany and Switzerland.

As a pioneer, with an influential regional tradition and strong cross-border roots, Alsace will perhaps be an example for other departments. Who will dare to follow in its footsteps?

More information: https://www.alsace.eu/

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Arte.tv: the new, European and free platform

Arte.tv: the new, European and free platform

Finally some good news in these difficult times: the streaming platform of the Franco-German television broadcaster Arte.tv offers free European TV series to the public. They are provided in the original language (with subtitles). It is the ideal opportunity to discover the great classics of the various genres or to get to know other styles.

The aim of this offer is simple: it aims to significantly rejuvenate Arte’s target group, who on average are older than 60 years. Young people are actually watching less and less television, instead being especially enthusiastic about Netflix series or HBO productions. Series are the audiovisual genre of the decade and Arte understands that too. But will the Franco-German television broadcaster be able to compete with the largest platforms?

“That is not the question,” says the editorial team of the television show. The model that Arte is promoting with this offer is unique. The aim is not to consume series like this on other platforms, the audience should rather take their time and simply “enjoy”. The content that is offered is not new, but is still relevant today.

Further information: https://www.arte.tv/de/

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