Many meetings offered and funded by the Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO) bring together participants from France, Germany and third countries in order to strengthen intercultural learning and citizen engagement among young people in Europe and neighboring countries.
Shape and contents of trilateral projects
Target audience of trilateral projects
The trilateral meetings are geared towards all the target groups of the projects funded by the FGYO, i.e. all groups of people aged 3-30. The meetings can be organized by schools or in an extra-curricular context and in particular are aimed at primary and high school students, apprentices and young people starting out their career.
Shape of trilateral projects
In order for a trilateral meeting to be eligible for funding, it must follow the guidelines for the design and organization of projects:
- three-phased meetings, one in each country (principle of reciprocity),
- length of project: 1-3 years,
- length of meetings: 4-21 days,
- 60 participants max. (including accompanying staff),
- a similar number of participants between the three countries,
- equal participation in the design of the project between the three countries involved,
- use of all three countries’ languages during the exchange.
Contents of trilateral projects
In order to be eligible for funding and also to ensure the success of a project, it is necessary to meet a certain number of criteria concerning its contents and methodology.
Trilateral programs should be project-based and have a thematic focus. They should deal with current topics regarding society, geopolitics and/or foreign affairs, for example:
- European history and future,
- democracy and human rights,
- political education and youth participation,
- professional training.
In order to bring added value to a project, topics should have a Franco-German element to them. The aim is to provide a shared experience of Franco-German cooperation at the European and international level. In addition, there is also the aim of ensuring that the experience of reconciliation between both countries serves to inspire third countries.
It is also important to use specific methods to promote intercultural learning, political training and peace education. Methods relating to cultural pedagogy and cultural practices can be integrated to introduce political topics.
Other aspects that should be taken into account are:
- project preparation and quality assurance,
- active participation by young people in the design and implementation of meetings,
- inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities,
- language animation activities and inclusion of each of the three languages in the program.
Partner countries and priority regions
Countries in Europe are eligible as well as eastern neighbour countries and countries in the Mediterranean region. Funding can be provided for projects with partners from the following countries and regions:
- Central and Eastern Europe,
- South-Eastern Europe,
- countries of the Eastern Partnership,
- countries of the Mediterranean Rim,
- European countries in a crisis.
Funding may be granted on an exceptional basis to projects involving more than three countries. The award condition is linked to the content and purpose of the project. Participants can, for example, work on difficult historical issues and conflicts between two countries, taking the Franco-German partnership as an example for successful reconciliation.
Examples of regional cooperation where topics such as history and memory work, identity and integration can be covered within the framework of four-nation meetings are: Turkey/Armenia, Turkey/Cyprus, Hungary/Slovakia, Kosovo*/Serbia, Croatia/Serbia, Algeria/Morocco, Israel/Palestinian Territories.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
To request funding from the FGYO, the form should be filled out either by the French or German partner and sent directly to the relevant department.
The German Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) and the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères) provide special funds for trilateral projects with countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), countries in South-Eastern Europe (SEE) and the Maghreb countries.
Funded projects are highlighted by their innovative nature, are closely linked to foreign policy and cover the main topic areas set out by the FGYO.
Funding through special funds brings an additional guarantee for projects concerning the amounts of the funding, as well as greater visibility.
Applications for funding within the framework for special funds should be handed in the year before the start of the project. The schedule, subject to change according to each region, may be consulted on the respective websites.
The FGYO’s European and international commitment
Since its creation in 1963, the FGYO’s mission has been to promote exchange and a better understanding between young people from France and Germany. The aim is to encourage the leaders of tomorrow to become actively involved in social and political matters at an everyday level.
Promoting the European idea by financing projects with a (socio-)political nature is one of the FGYO’s priorities.
As stated in its founding statutes from 1963, the work of the FGYO has a European and international dimension. The progressive accessibility of the programs to third countries since the 1970s offers participants the chance, beyond the deepening of the Franco-German friendship, to develop themselves within an international and intercultural context and to gain common experiences.
- 1971: Trilateral programs are mentioned for the first time in directives
- 1976: Programs open to countries in the European Community
- 1979: Programs open to non-EC countries
- 1991: Programs open to Central and Eastern European countries (CEE) and funding for projects with countries of the Mediterranean Rim (especially the Maghreb region)
- 2000: Programs open to South-Eastern European countries (SEE)
- 2014: Programs open to countries in the Eastern partnership. Priority is equally given to countries of the Mediterranean Rim (Maghreb) and European countries in a crisis.
The main goal of the trilateral work of the FGYO is to prepare young people to cooperate with European countries and their neighbors. In view of the weight of the Franco-German pair in the EU, it is particularly important to prepare the key decision-makers of tomorrow to play the part.
At the trilateral meetings, participants acquire vital skills for European and international cooperation. These meetings are based on intercultural dialogue, understanding and mutual learning.
Exchange programs aim to drive European values such as democracy, solidarity and tolerance, in order to strengthen civil society and citizen engagement. By placing the focus on political education and crisis prevention, participants are permitted to take the center stage as actors in European integration and dialogue between nations and cultures.
By supporting Franco-German reconciliation and European and international cooperation, participants also have the chance to learn more about their shared history. Their different ways of understanding their shared past represents an important element in the promotion of mutual understanding and peaceful ways of living together.
Advantages of trilateral meetings
Trilateral meetings bring with them added value regarding interculturality. By bringing together participants from three different countries, they provide an ideal framework to promote plurality and encourage the exchange of different opinions and perspectives which go beyond the simple encounter of French and German culture. They offer further benefits both for language acquisition and intercultural awareness.
At a trilateral meeting, languages are viewed as a tool for communication between nations and are actively utilized even when no native speaker is present. Participants see the added value from learning together and can see the progress they are making. They overcome their fears of making mistakes and improve their language skills and confidence.
Leading young people to reflect on the perceptions they have of themselves and of others as well as deconstructing stereotypes and prejudices is easier to implement within the framework of a meeting where participants come together from three different countries. Experience shows that the presence of young people from a third country emphasizes the effect of exchanges (triangulation phenomenon) and allows better understanding of cultural diversity for our societies. Participants become familiarized with the ways of thinking of neighboring countries, as well as other European countries.
Participation of young people from third countries, namely outside the EU, allows young people from France and Germany to discover the everyday lives, aspirations and ways of thinking of other young people who view Europe “from the outside”. This new perspective brings with it new ideas about Europe. Participants gain a better understanding of their similarities and get to understand that, despite their differences, they are very close. Together, they become aware of their countries’ responsibility towards Europe and topics on a global scale.
Projects and meetings including participants from three or more countries encourage learning about Europe. The different points-of-view of young European citizens contribute to advancing the European project. The European idea and democracy become solid realities. Furthermore, these meetings allow young people from third countries to get to know France, Germany and the European Union.
In order to achieve these goals, the FGYO promotes a “pedagogy of difference”. This entails understanding cultural differences, so that young people manage to develop respect toward each other in an authentic and meaningful way, which forms the basis of lasting dialogue.
Benefits for civil society and peace education
Changes in perspective generated by the plurality of participants and their many ways of viewing the world help young people to look at their prejudices and social events and policies with a critical eye, when these are placed in a wider context. Mutual understanding between young people from different countries rests on intensive communication. It not only serves to prevent crises and reinforces young people’s sense of identification with the European idea, but also gives them tangible proof that it is possible to commit to common values and goals beyond their own borders.
Exchanging with young people from different countries and working together on historical subjects allows to overcome a purely national interpretation of history, replacing it with a multi-perspective view on historical events. This makes the handling of certain historical facts easier and encourages mutual understanding beyond the Franco-German context. The success of Franco-German reconciliation can also be used as an example and can serve as a tool to defuse current conflicts.
Trilateral meetings with participants from Central and Eastern Europe offer specific chances for young people from France to gain an awareness of local history, often linked to German history, as well as culture and the current situation in both countries. In the media, as in everyday life, one hears less about them in France than in Germany. Exchange programs with the Maghreb region allow, as far as they are concerned, young people from Germany to gain awareness of topics and situations often seen as being key in French history. These meetings allow participants to expand their points-of-view on history and to develop contacts with other countries.