The Franco-German Citizens' Fund is setting a signal for European cohesion - both in the Corona crisis and beyond. With a total budget of 2.4 million euros, both governments are now supporting projects that deepen civil society exchange between Germany and France - in line with the Treaty of Aachen.
Exchange, encounter, community, solidarity and commitment are reinventing themselves in order to survive and contribute in the current crisis. Now in particular it is important to strengthen a vibrant civil society, active democracy and European cohesion. The Franco-German Citizens' Fund makes this possible: it is an initiative of the Treaty of Aachen and is financed by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Youth and Women (BMFSFJ), the French Ministry of Education and Youth as well as the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs. The German-French Youth Office (DFJW) is responsible for implementation.
"We have jointly decided to launch this beacon project of the Treaty of Aachen during the crisis and thus send a strong signal to German and French civil society. The Franco-German Citizens' Fund is an appreciation and encouragement for all those who are committed to civic engagement and thus hold our societies and Europe together," said Juliane Seifert, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, and Gabriel Attal, French State Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Youth.
"Not only the current corona crisis shows that European solidarity is indispensable. Where the citizens of our two countries act together and feel connected to each other, nationalist aberrations end. With the support of the Franco-German Citizens' Fund, everyone can contribute something to the European project. We would like to thank the Franco-German Youth Office for the work it has done in such a short space of time", said Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, and Amélie de Montchalin, State Secretary for European Affairs at the French Minister for Europe.
"The Citizens' Fund opens a new chapter in the history of relations between our two countries: What began with the Elysee Treaty and the founding of the DFJW is being continued with the Treaty of Aachen and the Franco-German Citizens' Fund. Germans and French need each other more than ever," say Tobias Bütow and Anne Tallineau, DFJW General Secretaries.
What is being supported?
The Franco-German Civic Fund supports everyone who is actively engaged in promoting a strong European civil society; Franco-German projects that bring us closer together; encounters across generations and across borders.
To take account of the special circumstances, the focus is initially on online encounters: In the case of online dinners, for example, interested parties can already plan future projects now. Projects between creative artists, sports clubs or town twinning associations can also break new ground and be supported online.
When the curfews are lifted and normality returns, the Citizens' Fund should also bring people back together physically: From group exchanges with the partner city or a joint concert, Franco-German conferences and digital projects to cross-border sports events or an anniversary celebration: funded projects should stimulate, renew or deepen the exchange between citizens* from Germany and France in an effective and innovative way. They strengthen democracy in Germany and France and promote European understanding and diversity. The focus is on topics such as environmental protection, intergenerational dialogue, health, culture, human rights, sport and digitization.
Who can take part?
The Citizens' Fund is aimed at associations and citizens' initiatives, town twinning and foundations or actors from the social economy, education and science in the service of a vibrant Europe. The aim of the Citizens' Fund is to help make Franco-German friendship tangible to the general public.
How can you join in?
This is why the funding is particularly low-threshold: language skills are not required, an online search exchange for partner organisations will provide contacts and the funding application is simply submitted online.
The Citizens' Fund goes back to the Treaty of Aachen concluded in 2019, by which Germany and France confirmed their cooperation 56 years after the Elysée Treaty (1963). One of the agreements: strengthening joint civil society initiatives and town twinning. The Citizens' Fund offers financial and structural support for this. In this way, a long-cherished wish of committed Franco-German institutions and associations becomes reality.
The implementation is the responsibility of the Franco-German Youth Office (DFJW), which has been promoting exchange between young people in Germany and France for decades and is networked with thousands of civil society players in both countries. The DFJW is establishing the citizens' fund during a pilot phase of three years.
The budget of the Citizens' Fund will be provided in equal parts by Germany and France: The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) is providing 1.2 million euros. The French Ministry of Education and Youth (DJEPVA) and the French Ministry for European Affairs and Foreign Affairs (MEAE) are each contributing 600,000 euros.
More information is available at https://www.buergerfonds.eu/