A unifying and citizen-based project for the Doubs Urban Conurbation

April 2015

A unifying and citizen-based project for the Doubs Urban Conurbation

On the territory of the French-Swiss Jura Arc, the Doubs Urban Conurbation (Agglomération Urbaine du Doubs – AUD) has launched a cross-border intercultural and intergenerational project aimed at involving the populations and civil society of the French and Swiss municipalities that make it up: Morteau (F), Villers-le-Lac (F), Les Fins (F), La Chaux-de-Fonds (CH), Le Locle (CH) and Les Brenets (CH).

The AUD is the main cross-border conurbation in the French-Swiss Jura Arc. Centred around a community based above all on a shared history of watchmaking, the six municipalities have cooperated for many years. Today, following the economic surge in the Swiss part sparked by the bilateral agreements, this part attracts over 7,000 cross-border workers on a daily basis (out of total of 65,000 inhabitants). But at the same time, a mutual lack of knowledge about the population on the other side can be observed, with the "cross-border experience" often being limited to economic or commercial exchanges and the possibility of giving rise to anti-cross-border worker feeling.

It was against this backdrop that the AUD* presented, on 2 March 2015 in Villers-le-Lac, its project "Two Countries – One Population" aimed at promoting social cohesion and harmonious coexistence.

The aim of the project is to foster concrete partnerships involving people on both sides of the border in the area of leisure, sport and culture, potentially taking the form of cross-border events that bring the different populations together. The project aims to be intergenerational, with people of all ages participating: children, young people, working-age people, senior citizens, etc.

Thus, the project's main areas of activity are:

  • Setting up French-Swiss projects between schools, local companies and associations that are active in the territory.
  • Organising cross-border cultural, tourism and sporting events.
  • Coordinating and promoting all of the actions undertaken, and encouraging exchanges between the six municipalities involved, representatives of the administrative departments and other relevant players.

The project is based on a request for funding in the framework of the 2016-2020 "Periurban – Cohabitation in a Rural Setting" programme from Switzerland's Federal Commission on Migration, whose decision is expected by the end of June 2015. A search for funding on the French side is under way so as to balance out the sources of financial support.

* Alongside its other partners: the Neuchâtel Urban Network and the Canton of Neuchâtel.

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