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Europe

In brief: City partnerships

Franco-German city partnerships really took off in 1951, but the concept is nothing new.

The idea of twinning cities is not a new concept. The first officially documented partnership between cities dates back to the year 836, when the relics of St. Liborius were transferred from the French town of Le Mans to Paderborn, in western Germany. The close connection between the two cities continues today; since 1967, they have been formally twinned.

City partnerships are seen as a successful way of creating international understanding, particularly after World War II when it was hoped the practice could bring former foes closer together again. The goal was, and still is, to encourage cooperation between local authorities and to promote cultural and economic exchange. In partnerships between Germany and France, it's about making cooperation in daily life visible at the political level. One of the priorities is promoting encounters between young people from both countries.

Franco-German city partnerships really took off in 1951, after 50 mayors from both countries founded the Council of European Municipalities. A year earlier, Ludwigsburg and Montbeliard had previously sealed the first official partnership between a German and a French community. Both cities had already been closely connected for more than 600 years by a marriages between their two royal houses.

Today, there are more than 2,200 Franco-German partnerships between cities, departments and regions. Many of them even have additional partners in other countries in Europe and around the world.