The Straits Committee: A Transboundary Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation

Open to the living and creative energy of the regions, this visionary organization forms a cross-border space for dialogue and collaboration.

A meeting was co-organized in Arras on 6 July by the Detroit Committee and the French Society of Urban Planners (SFU) in conjunction with the European Council of Urban Planners. The objective was to share and compare planning practices and challenges at a cross-border scale. Followed by about 50 participants, the day’s work took place in several stages with rich interventions and round tables according to the theme.

Due to their geographical proximity, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union is particularly important for these regions. Furthermore, the new relationship the UK maintains with EU countries invites us to consolidate and intensify cross-border cooperation practices already established.

A ithe goddess Partnership Center

Mireille Hingrez-Serreda, Vice-President of the Pas-de-Calais Departmental Council responsible for maritime and metropolitan coastal issues, fishing, European and cross-border relations, explains, “The Straits Committee, launched two years ago, reflects the desire of local authorities bordering the Channel and North Sea to make national decisions that risk severing ties with the UK even as their fate is left in their own hands. Our regions face common challenges And the whole challenge of the Straits Committee is to respond to them together.»

Common challenges emerge in economic vitality, coping and adapting to climate change, and opportunities for youth. It appears that in order to address these challenges, committee members cannot act alone and must take into account the actors who bring the region to life.

For this, it is a question of dialogue and working in a network. “This principle has guided the Committee’s actions since its formation: the launch conference in February 2020 brought together more than 200 interlocutors from all regions of the Straits to gather their needs and aspirations. The health crisis that followed did not affect our will.»

Partnerships should be developed in many ways: between local authorities by maintaining inter-institutional relations, between regional actors (youth associations, researchers, regional parks, ports, etc.) sharing as openly as possible in a joint and cross-border manner, between citizens culture and experience. To share and promote openness to others.

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

This principle brings together urban planners and land use planning experts from the committee’s member communities with the strong intention of promoting dialogue, among themselves but also with elected community representatives and technologists.

These experts provide a clear and uncompromising view of our regions and the challenges that await us there They are carriers of development solutions and concrete action proposals for us political decision makers.»

Many exchanges and ways of thinking

In terms of coastal management and combating the effects of climate change, logistical development that connects regions to allow economic development, or even new ways of living in regions to facilitate citizen participation, the speakers showed a common culture and contrasting approaches to the practice of their profession. They invite us to wonder about the way Meet citizens’ expectations while ensuring the future of regions.

The day revealed many cross-cutting topics and opportunities for collaboration or co-production. We are talking about sustainable development and circular projects, commercial support to regional SMEs, innovation, tourism and agriculture, sea ports, cooperation and exchange in training, youth and youth should be involved in all projects, etc.

Thus, Vincent Gudstad, Honorary President of the European Council of Town Planners, suggests “The creation of a green maritime corridor by the port and ferry operators of the ports of Dover, Calais and Dunkirk. This proposal meets our regional expectations for cross-channel transport in the face of climate change

Successful collaboration experience

Charles Lambert, administrator of the SFU, proposed to reflect on the integration of the European region’s partnership at the scale of the strait. “The committee will make it possible to define what is common to us, to coordinate the actions taken, to set visible deadlines for your actions, to implement them and monitor the effects, to regularly revise them together, to create all the opportunities to learn from everyone. other other»

He cites two very positive examples which have worked successfully in Europe in the spirit of the Committee and proved him right. The Franco-Genevois Regional Committee, between Switzerland and France, is a place of exchange, governance and motivation of joint projects, which has piloted the Geneva Metropolitan Development Agency since 1973. Then, between Italy, Switzerland and France, the cross-border conference of the Mont-Blanc region, which is defined as a framework for political consultation, especially regarding regional planning and the environment of the various Alpine valleys that it brings. Together since 1991. This reflection can be taken as the conclusion of the day.

The region in which people live has almost everywhere in Europe become their true link between them and their nation. And no big promises or big ideological principles that forced them to accept everything. It is no longer the sanctions that motivate them. Everything we do, administrators, elected officials, and urban planners, must make clear to every citizen and every entrepreneur how he can engage himself to succeed in being happy where he is. The common work that motivates all of us, elected officials and planners, in Europe and in the UK: to facilitate people’s well-being.»

Mireille Hingrez-Serreda, vice-president of the Pas-de-Calais departmental council in charge of maritime and metropolitan issues on the coast, fishing, European and cross-border relations.

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