Some 60 British delegates from 33 UK local councils are meeting today (October 25) with French counterparts in Nancy for talks on how to strengthen partnerships between UK and French communities.
The idea is to build on good work already done through, notably, the twin town tradition, and discuss how to address today’s problems such as sharing ways to fight climate change and cost-of-living rises and how to address the impacts of the war in Ukraine.
It will also look at how to maintain good relationships post-Brexit.
In total, there will be around 100 delegates, mostly mayors.
There are some 1,000 twinning agreements between French and British communities, which is half of all the UK’s international twinning links; for example, Nancy has been twinned with Newcastle since 1954.
The British Embassy in Paris reports that it, and French partners, has recently helped fund projects including a conference on hydrogen power organised jointly by Aberdeen and Issy-les-Moulineaux, and a sharing of expertise on healthcare innovations by Manchester and Montpellier.
Another recent example of how twin towns can collaborate came as Leeds and Lille (twinned in 1968) this year signed an agreement pledging to work together in education, culture, sport and business.
The oldest Franco-British twinning agreements date back from just after World War Two, the first being Dundee and Orléans in 1946.
The conference in Nancy started yesterday and continues today; it is organised by the city of Nancy together with AFCCRE (the French section of a Europe-wide organisation for local councils), both governments, and local government associations for the devolved nations of the UK.
It follows on from a ‘Franco-British Mayors’ Summit’ in London in 2019.