Doctoral dissertation, Presses de l’ANRT, 2010, 792p
The Franco-German Elysée Treaty (22.01.1963) created an organization that still exists today: the Franco-German Youth Office. Although the Office has been progressively marginalized, at one time it was a significant program. During the 1960’s, it implemented a policy of mass youth exchange between the two countries. This policy is a reminder of the dream of European federalists to build a European “demos” through the socialization of a new generation. My doctoral dissertation relies on the so called “cognitive frames” in Policy Analysis to analyse the intellectual underpinnings of the Franco-German Youth Office program. I show that the actors agreed on a voluntarist policy narrative that forecasted the end of the old Franco-German antagonism after the development of such a mass youth exchange policy. Contrary to popular belief, the fact that the policy actors did believe in the project they were creating in 1963 was not and is not trivial. It allows us to understand how the Franco-German Youth Office spread political norms in its sphere of influence. Moreover, it explains the weight of this public policy on a larger scale. The Franco-German Youth Office program, itself politically utopian in its dream of a “fusion” between both countries, had actual consequences on Franco-German relations. Along with other symbolic constructions like the metaphor of the “Franco-German couple”, to this day it still orients most Franco-German policies.