Cross-border territories at the time of the "Decentralisation, Differentiation and Deconcentration Act"

October 2020

To discuss these opportunities for the future of cross-border territories, join us for Round table#7 of the Borders Forum, on 10 November 2020: "Cross-border areas, differentiated areas?"

While each territory has its own particular geographical, socioeconomic and cultural features, the institutional and legal environments in which cross-border areas operate resemble no other.

t the junction of two national regulatory jurisdictions, these territories are administered by territorial authorities and institutions that have different competences, modes of organisation and capacities for action on either side of the border, making the process of coordination all the more complex.

Perhaps more than elsewhere, the ability of territorial authorities to adapt to local specificities is crucial to enable the genuinely 360° development of these areas. The pandemic has moreover laid these issues bare, by showing up the “double lockdown” brought about by the unilateral closing of borders (with local services inaccessible, families divided, the range of movement restricted, jobs threatened and stigmatisation of cross-border workers, etc.).

The prospects for evolution offered by the forthcoming draft legislation on “decentralisation, differentiation and deconcentration” (3D) is coming just at the right time to give these territories greater room for manoeuvre. The devolution of regulatory powers to local players (decentralised departments of central government and local authorities), the generalisation of comprehensive territorial agreements, the modularity of local authorities’ competences depending on the issues involved, following the example of the future European Territorial Authority of Alsace, form part of the progress towards an approach to territorial development that is entirely focused on functional areas. The success of these guidelines will then depend solely on the ability to embed them in multi-level governance and proactive cooperation initiatives along France’s borders.

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