Whether at school or university, in vocational training or even in an exchange project, our everyday lives have become unthinkable without Europe. We actually fail to notice many of the benefits of Europe; open borders and a common currency? Developments that were unthinkable 100 years ago are features we take for granted today!

But Europe is not self-sustaining; Europe is not only lived but also made by all of us! Participation and dialogue are the cornerstones of this unique peace project to which each coming generation must be won over anew. And this is where the FGYO comes in. You don’t believe that? We’ll show you!

During encounters between young people from Germany and France – sometimes joined by another country – you will gain intercultural experience while reacquainting yourself with your own culture and language. Our programmes are as multifaceted as Europe itself.

The FGYO connects Europe at all levels, in all directions and across all generations. Already in the 1970s, the FGYO opened its programmes to other countries to share the experience of Franco-German friendship; this strengthened dialogue on an equal footing in Europe and with the European neighbourhood.

Poland, for example, has long been one of the most important partner countries for trilateral youth exchange at the FGYO. The regions of focus are the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and South-Eastern Europe (SEE), the countries of the Eastern Partnership and European countries in crisis. This exchange is made possible thanks to the additional CEE and SEE Special Funds provided by the German Federal Foreign Office and the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. And since all good things come in threes, since 2019 there has also been a third Special Fund for trilateral exchange projects with the countries of the Maghreb . Through these efforts, the FGYO seeks to empower young people and organisations in civil society that are committed to democracy and the interests of young people in Europe and the southern Mediterranean.

Europe thrives on commitment, participation and discussions. Europe would not work if not for civic education. Hence, working with partners such as the German Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb), we have launched calls for projects such as ‘Democracy: Now!’. Our aim: to foster young people’s commitment to Europe, strengthen cross-border solidarity and secure Europe’s future.

We seek to offer a change of perspective, mutual understanding and an ability to learn from one another. This also applies to unpleasant chapters in European history, and to historical wounds that still have yet to heal. How can it be that Germany and France were at war with one another for centuries, but that an armed conflict between the two countries today seems impossible?

Particularly in the context of encounters with multiple countries, this is a question that comes up again and again – and Germany and France have a wealth of experience to offer. With our expertise and the programmes around processes of reconciliation in civil society, the FGYO played a significant role in the process of establishing the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) in 2016. And in 2018, parallel to commemorations marking the end of the First World War, the FGYO organised the ‘Youth for Peace’ youth encounter with more than 500 young people from nearly 50 countries. What emerged from this initiative? 100 ideas for peace and, once again, the realisation that there is more that unites us than divides us!

So now what do you say? Do you still think Europe has nothing to do with you?

Activities are conducted all throughout the year, including around Europe Day on 9 May. This is a day that the FGYO and its partners celebrate every year!