Special Dossier on the European elections: "putting cross-border cooperation at the heart of political debate" by Michel Delebarre, President of MOTMarch 2014
"At a time when many citizens are displaying disaffection with Europe, it is vital in the run-up to the European elections to reaffirm our commitment to cross-border territories."
By Michel Delebarre, President of MOT, Former French Minister of State, Senator and Mayor of Dunkirk, President of the Europe 2020 Monitoring Platform of the Committee of the Regions
"France has nearly 3000 km of borders. Ten million French people live in the vicinity of a neighbouring country and 360,000 people cross the border every day go to work on the other side.
The increasing opening-up of national borders is an opportunity. It gives rise to agglomeration economies within a cross-border territories; it encourages linguistic and cultural diversity. But, at the same time, imbalances emerge as the political, administrative and legal frameworks do not correspond to the reality of cross-border situations. Cross-border territories need to be supported by strong political will.
If all of Europe’s territories are called upon to participate in the Europe 2020 Strategy, cross-border territories are even more so. Economically, they create wealth through the development of cross-border SMEs, clusters and research and innovation networks; socially, they are territories in which new cross-border labour markets are formed; and from an environmental point of view, they are spaces of joint responsibility.
Cooperation requires the involvement of all levels of government: local and regional authorities, which are the level closest to daily life, have a greater role; the support of national governments is needed, which have to coordinate their strategies, legislation and financing tools across borders; and European policy across the board needs to take greater account of the challenges and potential in cross-border territories.
The economic crisis and public debt have created a disjunction between the political process and Europe’s citizens. In cross-border territories, national and European policies converge; they constitute the most appropriate areas in which to experiment with cross-border services for the general public and businesses, and to foster a European citizenship that is enriched by the diversity of national and regional cultures.
Thus, at a time when many citizens are displaying disaffection with Europe, it is vital in the run-up to the European elections to reaffirm our commitment to cross-border territories."Back to list