The Strait Committee: a cross-border space for dialogue and cooperation

This forward-looking body, open to the living and creative forces of the territories, provides a cross-border space for dialogue and cooperation.

A meeting was organized on July 6 in Arras by the Detroit Committee and the French Society of Urban Planners (SFU) in collaboration with the European Council of Urban Planners. The goal was to share and compare planning practices and challenges across borders. Followed by about fifty participants, the day’s work took place in several stages through rich efforts and round tables by theme.

Given its geographical proximity, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union is of particular importance for these areas. In addition, the new relations that the United Kingdom maintains with the countries of the European Union invite us to consolidate and intensify the practice of cross-border cooperation that has already been established.

A igoddess partnership center

As explained by Mireille Hingrez-Céréda, Vice-President of the Pas-de-Calais Departmental Council responsible for maritime and metropolitan areas coastal, fisheries, European and cross-border relations, “Launched two years ago, the Straits Committee reflects the local authorities bordering the Channel and the North Sea on holding their fate in hand despite national decisions that risked leading to a break with the United Kingdom. Our territories face common challenges and the whole challenge for the Straits Committee is to respond to them together.»

Common challenges emerge in the form of economic vitality, combating and adapting to climate change and opportunities for young people. It seems that in order to meet these challenges, the members of the committee cannot act alone and must take into account the actors who bring the territory to life.

In addition, it is a matter of dialogue and working in a network. “This principle has guided the committee’s action since its inception: the February 2020 launch conference brought together more than 200 interlocutors from all regions of the Strait to bring together their needs and ambitions. The health crisis that erupted immediately after did not affect our will.»

Partnerships should be developed in many directions: between local authorities through the interinstitutional relations maintained, between territorial actors (youth associations, researchers, regional parks, ports, etc.) in order to share as openly as possible the collective and cross-border approach, between citizens to share cultures and experiences and promote openness to others.

Mireille Hingrez-Céréda explains how it works: “With my colleagues representing the various member municipalities, we meet every three months to guide the committee’s efforts and promote the development of joint projects.. ”

It is this principle that brings together urban planners and land use planning experts from the member communities of the committee with the asserted idea of ​​promoting dialogue between them, but also with the elected representatives and technicians of the local communities.

These experts provide a clear and uncompromising picture of our territories and the challenges that await us there. They are also the bearers of development solutions and concrete proposals for action for the policy makers that we are.»

Many exchanges and ways of thinking

Whether it’s coastal management and combating the effects of climate change, logistical developments connecting the regions to allow economic development, or even in the form of new ways of inhabiting the territory to facilitate citizen participation, the speakers showed a common culture and contrasting approaches in the pursuit of their profession. They invited us to marvel at the way live up to citizens’ expectations and at the same time secure the future of the areas.

The day revealed many cross-cutting topics and opportunities for collaboration or co-production. We are talking about sustainable development and circular projects, commercial assistance to regional SMEs, innovation, tourism and agriculture, maritime ports, cooperation and exchanges in education, young people to be involved in all projects, and so on.

Thus, Vincent Goodstadt, Honorary President of the European Council of Town Planners, proposes that “create a green maritime corridor of the ports and ferry companies of the ports of Dover, Calais and Dunkirk. This proposal meets our territorial expectations for transport across the canal in the light of climate change“.

Successful collaboration experiences

Charles Lambert, administrator of SFU, proposes to reflect on the assimilation of efforts in European territory the size of the strait. “The committee will make it possible to define what we have in common, to coordinate the actions to be taken, to set visible deadlines for your actions, to monitor their execution and effects, to correct them regularly, all opportunities to learn of each other others.»

He mentioned two very positive examples which worked successfully in Europe in the spirit of the Committee and which proved him right. The Franco-Genevois Regional Committee, between Switzerland and France, a place of exchange, management and momentum for joint projects, which since 1973 has piloted the organization of metropolitan development in Geneva. Then, between Italy, Switzerland and France, the cross-border conference in the Mont-Blanc area, which is defined as a structure for political consultation, in particular with regard to territorial planning and the environment in the various Alpine valleys, which it has brought together since 1991 Its reflection can be taken up at the end of the day.

The area where people live has almost everywhere in Europe become their true real connection between them and their nation. No more big promises or big ideological principles that made them accept everything. It is no longer the prohibitions that motivate them. Everything we do, administrators, elected officials and urban planners, must make it clear to every single citizen and every entrepreneur how he himself can commit to succeed in being happy where he is. The common task that motivates us all, elected and planners, in Europe and in Britain: to promote the well – being of the people.»

Mireille Hingrez-Céréda, Vice-President of the Pas-de-Calais Departmental Council responsible for maritime and metropolitan affairs on the coast, fisheries, European and cross-border relations.

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