press release

Declaration by Foreign Ministers Gabriel and Johnson on UK-German youth exchange


Joint declaration by Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, and Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, on expanding UK-German youth and school exchanges:

The future of relations between Germany and the UK is in the hands of the youth of today. Our relations rest on shared European values and a spirit of cooperation which have matured over the decades. The centrepiece of these relations is formed by fruitful and diverse contacts in the economic, educational and cultural spheres, a broad network of civil society links, and personal and professional ties. Exchange between young people, learning each other’s languages and knowing each other’s history will continue to play a crucial role in the shaping of our future bilateral Relations.

It is thus crucial to give as many young people from our two countries as possible the chance to get to know their peers in the other country in order to foster mutual understanding.

In 2004, President Köhler of Germany and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II expressed their shared wish to revitalise contacts between young people and school pupils and recalled in that connection the pledge enshrined in our Cultural Convention of 18 April 1958 to promote youth exchange. In consequence, our two Governments launched the UK-German Connection in the summer of 2005. This bilateral initiative has established itself as a key body for the coordination of all aspects relating to bilateral youth and school exchanges. Thousands of young people from Germany and the UK have availed themselves of the opportunity to visit fellow youngsters in the other country, to learn their language and to foster understanding about the way they live. Our sincere thanks go to all those who have worked so tirelessly on this project, including staff at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Education and the British Council, on the part of the UK, and the Educational Exchange Service of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the German Länder on behalf of Germany. In Germany, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth is responsible for youth exchanges outside of the school framework.It is now time to take the next steps together. We want to intensify our Governments’ efforts to increase exchange between our countries’ youngsters. With this in mind, we will this year double the funds available to the UK-German Connection. In addition, we will consolidate the institutional framework of the UK-German Connection so that it can continue to function as a central coordinating agency in the long term. It is the aim of both countries to enable a significantly larger number of young people and teachers to profit from future exchange programmes, to strengthen cultural ties and to promote language learning.We consider our increased commitment to intensified exchange between young people and school pupils as a long-term investment in a peaceful Europe, in our security and in our prosperity – as friends and partners in Europe.

Background Information:

Germany and the UK are stepping up youth and school exchanges. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and his British counterpart Boris Johnson spoke in London in April about the need to enhance efforts in this field. The UK-German Connection, the only youth exchange office in the UK to date with any other European country, is to receive additional support to ensure it has the capacity to make an even more lasting contribution to dialogue and exchange between young people from Germany and the UK.

The two ministers thus stated in their declaration that they would double the funds available to the UKGC and further intended to promote the consolidation and expansion of these links.

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Germany and the UK: bilateral relations

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