More than 150 people meeting in Chamonix!June 2015
More than 150 people, elected officials and stakeholders in cross-border territories, national and European representatives met in Chamonix on 17-18 June on the occasion of the MOT General Assembly to debate on the impact of territorial reforms on cross-border cooperation.
Michel Delebarre, former Minister of State, Senator of the North, has been re-elected president of the MOT, on the basis of renewed statutes for MOT, with a new "Advisory Committee" and a new "Board".
Read the editorial from Michel Delebarre.
At the foot of the Mont Blanc, "roof of Europe, roof of cooperation" , Eric Fournier, Mayor of Chamonix, welcomed the participants calling for greater recognition of cross-border spaces and in particular mountain areas, to build "consistent solidarity territories".
Christian Dupessey, Rhône-Alpes Regional Counselor, Vice-president of the MOT, stressed the urgency of this support: "border regions are carrying a positive message on Europe to our fellow citizens, the improvement of the living conditions of the inhabitants being the first stake."
According to Jacques Lévy, Geographer, Professor at the Ecole polytechnique fédérale of Lausanne, who moderated the debates throughout the three round tables: "it is the individual actors who build the spaces, and each actor is bigger than any space". The local political decision on the border areas should therefore fully take into account the reality of the border.
He thus stressed the "virtues" required for cross-border territorial development:
- the correct scale: the local has to manage the local
- the Republic: create a space of deliberation beyond the intergovernmental arrangements
- Democracy: give a voice to the people
- the imagination: invent territories beyond the borders.
The first round table, focusing on the local level, put forward several experiments such as the Mont Blanc area, the Greater Geneva and the European Metropolis of Lille. Anna Karina Kolb, representing the Canton of Geneva, stressed that "cross-border cooperation is international cooperation in the field". "It is necessary to go beyond our own rules in order to work together, out of a national vision to invent new and hybrid forms.
The second round table focused on the regional level has answered to other questions related to the reforms. According to Christian Dupessey, the distance from centres of decisions regarding the borders, due to new regions, does not mean that cross-border issues will be 'less' or 'less well' processed. On the contrary, this should reinforce the need for local and cross-border governance. The example of the Saarland, more autonomous than the French regions in terms of decision-making, illustrated the balance of the difference of competences on either side of the border, claiming that the creation of a single large region on the French side (Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine) could promote a more consistent and common voice towards Paris, Berlin and Brussels.
During the third round table focused on national and European levels, the representative of the European Commission, Agnès Montfret, underlined the outcomes of the last 25 years cross-border cooperation. "It is now necessary to show citizens that this Europe works, thanks to projects that match not only the vital functions of territories, but allow to increase investment in growth and employment", she added.
Representing the European Parliament, Anne Sander, newly elected MOT Vice-president, enhanced the role of the European Parliament which wants to capitalize on the experience of networks such as MOT to adapt European legislation and place cross-border issues in the heart of its policies. She thus announced the creation of a new EP working-group on cross-border cooperation.
Jean-Christophe Baudouin, Director of territorial strategies at the General Commission for Territorial Equality (CGET, France), welcomed the "swarming" of experiences. "We are in the heart of the construction of Europe; the success of the European project depends on the success of the cross-border projects!"
Elisa Vall, Director of the support to territories at the the Caisse des Dépôts (France), for her part highlighted the willingness of the Caisse des Dépôts to develop cross-border public investment.
More info on the conference.
More info on the MOT bodies.