Editorial by Jean Rottner, President of the Grand Est Region and President of the FNAU

January 2022

Editorial by Jean Rottner, President of the Grand Est Region and President of the FNAU

With the start of the 2022 marking the launch of France’s presidency of the European Union, it is an important time to champion the construction of a Europe that is closer to its citizens, a Europe of daily life, notably embodied by the cross-border territories, which contribute to cementing the European edifice.

The Aachen Treaty has opened up new possibilities and perspectives for cross-border cooperation. It is up to everyone to take this opportunity to build concrete cooperation initiatives and I hope that urban planning agencies will participate fully in this. The new urban planning agencies that have joined the MOT are a sign that their partnerships and missions are increasingly extending beyond national borders.

Building territorial cooperation in cross-border living areas means first of all building up knowledge and a shared culture. This is one of the core missions of urban planning agencies, but the cross-border context makes it more complex due to the disparities in available data and the diversity of the players that need to be mobilised.

Building cross-border projects also means constructing shared living areas and taking action. For example, the pandemic has highlighted the need to put cooperation in place in the area of healthcare, to enable greater resilience. Cooperation also involves working together on cross-border forms of mobility in order to make them more efficient and more integrated. Cross-border projects are also about creating a “shared story”. Each time legal, regulatory and cultural barriers have to be overcome. But it is in the DNA of urban planning agencies to be able to get players around the table and to help projects get off the ground.

In June 2022, UN Habitat’s World Urban Forum will also be hosted in Europe, in Katowice, Poland. In the run-up to this, the MOT undertook to steer one of the working groups of the Partenariat Français pour la Ville et les Territoires (PFVT – French Partnership for Cities and Territories), which the FNAU coordinates, and whose mission is to formulate French players’ contribution to the world urban agenda: an opportunity to remind people of the importance of cross-border cooperation initiatives for more sustainable and inclusive territories.

Photo : Christine Ledroit Perrin

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