"We cannot build Europe without a strong and effective German-French partnership"
As French diplomat living and working in the cosmopolitan German capital, Antoine embodies the German-French friendship and the European experience. Having initiated the very first Model G20 at ESCP Business School only three months after the first G20 summit in Washington in 2008, the Frenchman went on from simulating negotiations to taking part in them by joining the task-force of the presidency of the G8 and the G20 at the French Foreign Office during the financial crisis in 2011. By launching the online citizen initiative “Je Veux l’Europe” in 2013, Antoine and the other co-founders of the initiative highlighted the positive impact that the EU has in France, therefore advocating for electoral participation during the European elections of 2014. For their idea and the team’s commitment, "Je Veux l’Europe" did not only receive the label Paris Europe by the City Council of Paris but was also awarded with the European Citizens’ Prize 2014 by the European Parliament.
Antoine, as a French living in Berlin, has the German-French friendship influenced you personally in any way? What are your hopes for the German-French relations for 2018 and beyond?
As a French Diplomat who chose Berlin as a first assignment abroad, the German-French friendship is very central to me. Personally because my family comes originally from Alsace in Eastern France. Professionally because I am impressed to see how pure political willingness could make history, could change the dynamics in one continent. I am since years engaged in European projects, because our common European future matters a lot for me. And we cannot build Europe without a strong and effective German-French partnership. According to me, the German-French friendship is an unprecedented example which could inspire similar reconciliation and friendship processes in Europe, of course, but in most other parts of the world as well.
Why is it important that initiatives such as GFYL exist?
GFYL is is an important initiative, as there is not a lot of programmes bringing together young professionals with high potential, who have not yet been introduced to the culture of Franco-German cooperation. In order to gather people, we first have to link the decision-makers, and in many economic and social sectors, and it is not yet always the case. Indeed, after studies and the amazing Erasmus programme, mobility in your life may be more limited if your job is not offering you this chance, for example due to lack of opportunity or of time.
One of the key topics of the GFYL conference is digitalisation. Is digitalisation a European topic? Should it be? What can Europe do to push digitalisation?
Digitalisation is a typical perfect new topic, to be addressed at the EU level. Why? Because it is directly linked to the future of our developed economies, representing opportunities and challenges at the same time. Besides, we — us Europeans — can benefit from its leverage effect by tackling it together. The added value in terms of investment capacities, innovation or value creation is much bigger at an EU level than at any national level. And because it is a relatively new issue, the added cost to join our resources and to adopt common regulation are not that big.
Last but not least, tell us your thoughts: In order to make Europe stronger, individual citizens should...
…first of all learn more about European countries they don’t know yet.