Franco-German dialogue on cross-border cooperation during COVID-19

Date
1 December 2020 - 30 December 2021
Customer
Missions Publiques intiative / Partners : Particip'Action, Fonds Citoyen Franco-Allemand, Région Grand Est, Land Bade-Wurtemberg (Germany)
Intervention
Coordination of the dialogue, search for partners and coordination of the network of actors
The Franco-German dialogue on the strengthening of cross-border cooperation in the context of COVID-19 is an initiative of Missions Publiques which aims to bring together 40 citizens from each side of the Franco-German border in online working sessions in order to formulate recommendations to the public authorities to strengthen Franco-German cooperation on the cross-border territory and to make the cooperation arrangements more resilient to crises.
The Upper Rhine region is a region characterised by the free movement and living together of French and German cross-border commuters. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and the temporary closure of the borders in the spring have shown that this cannot be taken for granted. It is therefore a matter of drawing together the lessons of this particular context, which may have undermined Franco-German cooperation, in order to strengthen cohesion and to live and do so together in the Franco-German cross-border region. The project is supported by the Fonds Citoyen. 

Context and objectives

In 2019, the Treaty of Aachen was signed by the French and German governments to strengthen relations between Germany and France. This Franco-German cooperation has long been experienced directly and directly by the inhabitants of the cross-border regions, e.g. Baden-Wuttermberg and the Greater East Region. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a different impact on the inhabitants of the two countries and has had a strong impact on the dynamics of Franco-German cooperation. The decision, taken in the spring in the urgency of the health crisis, to close the border between France and Germany has led to tension and distress in the cross-border area for the inhabitants who have seen the border (re)materialise.

This Franco-German dialogue opens up a space for exchanges between the inhabitants of the two cross-border regions of Baden-Württemberg and the Great East region, on their experience of the COVID-19 crisis, their experience of Franco-German cross-border cooperation and their aspirations for the future of this cooperation, in all fields. 40 citizens of all ages, from all socio-professional backgrounds, and living more or less close to the border have been recruited and are meeting in 4 sessions lasting one and a half days. During these sessions, they deliberate in plenary and in sub-groups, and also receive information from speakers specialised in various fields of cross-border cooperation. At the end of these four sessions, the participants will submit recommendations to the public authorities to improve Franco-German cooperation in the cross-border region and make this cooperation more resilient to health crises.

"The beginning of the crisis in March-April divided us, but now that the situation is the same everywhere, it has brought us closer. We are really starting to build a common culture to deal with the pandemic.

– Patricia, 51 y.o., participant of the first session

PROCEDURE

Missions Publiques coordinates all stages of the mission: drawing up the terms of reference and the strategic framework, preparing and running the sessions, writing the summaries of the sessions and communication.

  1. Strategic framing: Missions Publiques developed the terms of reference of the approach and the content of the sessions in cooperation with the Grand Est region and the Land of Baden-Württemberg, at regular framing meetings, to ensure that the approach meets the specific needs of the cross-border territory.
  2. Preparation and facilitation of the sessions: Missions Publiques prepares the sessions in accordance with the established mandate and with the partners involved. The preparation of the sessions includes the search for speakers, chosen for their expertise and on the basis of the desires/needs expressed by citizens at the previous session. Missions Publiques also moderates these sessions (online), and facilitates the sub-groups, with the support of our partners.
  3. Preparation of session summaries, in German and French, summarising the exchanges between participants and speakers. e.s.
  4. Communication on the process: communication work, through Missions Publiques and in coordination with the Franco-German Citizen Fund (interviews with citizens and partners, dissemination on social networks, etc.).

OUR ADDED VALUE

The Franco-German dialogue on the strengthening of cross-border cooperation in the context of COVID-19 is the first Franco-German approach conducted by Missions Publiques. This initiative is part of a more general desire to strengthen Franco-German links through participatory democracy and the involvement of citizens of both countries, either on a one-off basis or through long-term initiatives.

It is also a bilingual Franco-German approach, with all the challenges and richness that this entails in terms of technical aspects, team coordination, communication with participants, moderation, etc. For example, each session includes a team of Franco-German interpreters to ensure that everyone understands each other.

Deliverables

At the last session in April 2021, State Councillor Gisela Erler (Land Baden-Württemberg) and Regional Councillor Claudine Ganter (Region Grand Est) will receive the recommendations drawn up by the citizens.

KEY FIGURES

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participants (20 French and 20 German)
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languages
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sessions of one and a half day

learn more

France-Germany: cross-border cooperation during Covid-19
Baden-Württemberg and Grand-Est: making the region a “laboratory” for integration and cooperation