Zusammenarbeit der Gemeinden und Bundesländer
What is Town Partnership, or Town Twinning?
Partnership cooperation between towns, in other words town twinning, is a form of long-term international cooperation between local self-governments consisting of regular meetings of town representatives and citizens. Usually, this cooperation is based on an official document (partnership agreement) or a resolution adopted by the legislative body of the town/municipality concerned.
Over the long period of time of its existence, partnership cooperation, as a natural instrument of international cooperation between towns, has proved its worth in efforts to promote understanding between nations and cultures. Its added value is not only a live intercultural dialogue between ordinary citizens, or the overcoming of prejudices between nations, but also the strengthening of people’s participation in public life and support of civic awareness and the integration of the European Union.
It is very important for the exchange of experiences in different areas of the life of the town/community, whether this concerns town development, the social area, education, the environment, tourism, or the functioning of self-government. Through cooperation the self-governments can support the economic links of their businessmen and entrepreneurs with their counterparts in the partner towns and influence favourably the economic development of their towns and regions.
The town-twinning movement is unique in that it integrates all groups of citizens – from ordinary citizens, experts, businessmen and employees of different institutions, people of different ages, men and women (youth, economically active citizens, senior people, the handicapped, etc.), to civic associations and various organisations. It helps start lasting friendships and build professional links between citizens, organisations, offices, schools, etc., and exchange experiences. Twinning programmes have proved that town partnerships significantly help strengthen civic responsibility and the involvement of citizens in the life of the local community.
Town twinning can have several forms:
- formal (official) partnership – based on a signed cooperation agreement, declaration or cooperation contract;
- cooperation on a joint project;
- informal partnership – informal cooperation without any signed agreement or contract.
The basis for a well-functioning and living partnership is mutual understanding and the joint definition of partnership cooperation between the municipalities, efficient communication, clear and comprehensible formulation of the aims of the partnership and the active participation of citizens, special interest organisations and professional associations in town-twinning activities.