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International Relations Department<

Under the combined impetus of the President and the senatorial Office, the Senate has considerably widened its international activities. Within the space of a few years, its action has been profoundly remodelled and consolidated. This vigorous outward-looking approach consists not only in the assertion of the ordinary international missions but also in the growth of new processes. The International Relations Department, founded June 17th 1994, is dedicated to facilitate and, in some instances, to directly organise both activities.
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 Interparliamentary groups and prospective

Traditional means of action in the sphere of international relations available to the Senate, the interparliamentary groups face nonetheless a deep renewal. They may in fact become the spearhead of the Senate's international activities: in order to favour their expansion, statutory modifications, dating back respectively to January and June 1996, have already been endorsed by the senatorial Office. The renewal of interparliamentary groups materialises at several levels :

numerical surge (fifteen new groups established since 1994)

regular meetings with experts in international relations (CERI, IFRI)

holding of economic gatherings in partnership with the French Center of Foreign Trade (in one year, more than 1500 people and among them a thousand businessmen attended it)

arrangement of working breakfasts to the advantage of interparliamentary groups.

In charge of the development of these activities and, more generally, responsible for the coordination of the action of the 78 interparliamentary groups, this area of activity also takes care of the writing of notes and synthetic studies about international subjects. 

Interparliamentary cooperation

As a parliamentary assembly in a stable democracy, the Senate is regularly sought to lend its experience to Parliaments in the new democracies. The variety of the requests epitomises the referential status, acquired under very different latitudes, of the parliamentary procedure put in place by the Senate and of its working and organisational methods as well as the appreciation carried about the skills of the administrative personnel. The two-chamber system is finally a spreading model in the world and the new formed senatorial entities look quite normally, and whatever their composition be, toward the French Senate to benefit from its experience. The Senate, through the International Relations Department, which resorts to the aid of civil servants from the different departments, lives up to these expectations thanks to three types of action :

missions of expertise delivered abroad, which can be either about counsel and identification or focused on the organisation of seminaries or training sessions

reception in Paris of foreign civil servants or parliamentarians so as them to be acquainted with the organisation and the operation of the Senate

the organisation in Paris of internships, whose length ranges from one week to one month and whose purpose is to associate them to the life of the Senate's departments.

This area of activity undertakes in other respects the secretariat of the French sections at the Assembly of French-Speaking Parliamentarians.

Reception of foreign leaders

It is responsible for taking part in the reception of hundreds of foreign leaders that the Senate receives every year and for organising their schedules.

The International Relations Department, which tries hard to keep a creative approach and avoid any potential bureaucratic drift, includes fifteen civil servants.