The White Paper "Diplomacy and Territories" of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs: "A genuine strategy for cross-border cooperation"

November 2016

The White Paper "Diplomacy and Territories" of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs: "A genuine strategy for cross-border cooperation"

The members of the CNCD (National Commission for Decentralized Cooperation) approved on 23 November 2016 a White Paper entitled “Diplomatie et territoires" (Diplomacy and Territories) proposed by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development.

This White Paper aims to strengthen the pursuit of coherence between the diplomatic action of France and that of its local and regional authorities, through better coordination between the various tools and institutions that support the external action of local and regional authorities.

This strategy document notably presents an overview of the current situation, the implications of the internationalisation of territories and 21 concrete proposals for improving the partnership between the national government and local and regional authorities.

In addition to the emphasis on cross-border issues in economic terms, it dedicates an entire chapter to the definition of a "strategy for cross-border cooperation".

This strategy is presented in four strands:

1- Developing a new coherent strategy involving all actors concerned and strengthening cross-border governance

“Cross-border concerns will be included in a more systematic manner in bilateral political and economic cooperation with our European partners, in particular at the annual summits, in the context of economic forums, etc.”
“A general cross-border strategy, also adapted to each border, focusing on clear medium- to long-term priorities and mobilisation of central and local actors, will be established in order to better guide the work of bilateral commissions and dialogue with our foreign partners, in close consultation with the local and regional authorities and technical administrations concerned.”
“This cross-border strategy will identify major projects for each border capable of helping to strengthen the competitiveness and attractiveness of these territories […].”
“As the ambassador for cross-border questions, the DAECT [Delegation for the external action of local and regional authorities] and diplomatic advisors of prefects in border regions will need to intensify their coordination with the local and regional authorities concerned, and their groupings, in close cooperation with the SGARs (general secretariats for regional affairs) and the Mission Opérationnelle Transfrontalière.”

2- Leveraging diplomatic advisors of regional prefects

“Diplomatic advisors posted to border regions will be particularly attentive to:
- Effective coordination of actions and projects supported within the framework of cross-border cooperation programmes with the regional or interregional operational programmes, the State-Region plan contracts (CPER), national policies […], as well as with the actions and projects led by the neighbouring States within the framework of intergovernmental conferences.
- Facilitating the link between the other national programmes or policies.
- Ensuring coherence of these strategies with neighbouring States.
- Providing the link between the network of the services of the State (departmental prefects), and the French ambassador in the neighbouring country. They will also need to participate in driving cross-border cooperation on each border.”

3- Strengthening the Mission Opérationnelle Transfrontalière

The role of the MOT “must be strengthened to increase the services offered by this resource centre […], to contribute to the definition of strategies and priorities defined by border […], to play a supporting role to intergovernmental work […], to pursue its mission of technical innovation and support in cross-border cooperation”.

4- More effectively mobilising all actors concerned

“At the level of the State, […] the establishment of an interministerial steering committee for monitoring cross-border policies, with the support of the MOT, would improve coordination between the competent central administrations”.

Read the editorial from Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development (France)

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