Border: France-Spain-Andorra

Border: France-Spain-Andorra

Cooperation fields and projects

COOPERATION in the field of transport

One topic that is crucial is that of transport, whether it be local transport (a tram-train project to serve the Basque Eurocity – studies completed but the operational phase not yet underway) or seeking an alternative to the progressive saturation of existing infrastructures, with primarily road traffic being concentrated along the Basque coast and at the Perthus Pass, on the Catalan side. We may note that, in the case of the Basque Country, local traffic comes on top of long-distance traffic, as this route is also part of the Paris-Madrid motorway.

On the Atlantic coast, in the Basque Eurocity, one proposal to resolve the transport problem is the project for a tram-train between Hendaye and Bayonne which would connect up to the metric gauge tracks of the Euskotren lines in Hendaye station to enable there to be a rail link from one end of the Basque Eurocity to the other.

A full analysis of mobility flows, to the scale of the corridor Bayonne-Donostia, has been conducted in the framework of the project “Transfermuga”. This study has led to the creation of the line of cross-border bus Euskadi Express linking Bayonne (France) to Ficoba (Spain).

The specific programme of Andorra should also be noted, which is confronted with the challenges of its hemmed-in position and its supplies of goods.

The projects concerning transport across the Pyrenees go beyond the scope of local cooperation. A “bilateral” action plan was agreed at the French-Spanish summit in October 2005 with a view to “rebalancing the modes of transport used in favour of rail and sea transport” and “making the Pyrenees easier to cross in order to facilitate the development of economic and cultural exchanges”.


At the centre of the Pyrenees mountain range, cross-border cooperation is being developed with respect to protected natural spaces, starting with that between the Parc National des Pyrénées (created in 1968, departments of Hautes Pyrénées and Pyrénées Atlantiques) and the Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido (created in 1918, Aragon). In particular, they have sought international recognition together, with the joint inclusion of the two parks on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1998.

Another example is the Parc Naturel Régional (PNR) Pyrénées Catalanes, which has included a cross-border component in its charter.

Launched in 1998, the Parc naturel régional (PNR) des Pyrénées Ariégeoises project on the French-Spanish and French-Andorran borders became a reality in 2009. The partners have sought to develop the project a cross-border dimension, linked to the broader objective of sustainable development. The PNR’s joint association, which was set up in July 2005 and which is composed of local authorities and five partner public entities, is the body responsible for cross-border cooperation between the two parks.

The environmental dimension that is very present in French-Spanish cooperation can also be seen in several initiatives in the area of managing cross-border watercourses (the Nive, Nivelle, Sègre, Garonne, etc.).


The Nouvelle Aquitaine-Euskadi-Navarre Euroregion has developed a strategy for cross-border innovation in the field of Marine Renewable Energy (MRE), as Sylvain Roche, Guillaume Connan and Marc Moulin explain in their article “Cross-border innovation public policy building at the time of smart specialisation: Its application to the marine renewable energy sector in the Nouvelle Aquitaine-Euskadi-Navarre Euroregion” (2018 – available in the MOT’s documentation portal). According to the authors, this strategy was developed over several phases, within the framework of the EU’s energy, climate and “Blue Growth” policies: first by identifying waves as a shared coastal resource (WAKE project: 2014-2015), then with the project “From Seanergies to Seanergy” to bring together stakeholders around a territorial project, and finally through projects currently underway, notably for the production of an common interregional offering (BlueSARE project) and a collaborative project (Acoustic Around Ocean Energy).

Additionally, the Basque Country Conurbation Community is participating in the MAREA project ("Modélisation et Aide à la décision face aux Risques côtiers en Euskal Atlantique" – Modelling and Assistance with Decision-Making faced with Coastal Risks in Atlantic Euskal): MAREA is a cross-border research project aiming to better understand storm events on the Basque coast in order to anticipate risks of flooding and coastal erosion.


With respect to healthcare, Bayonne hospital centre has been a pioneer in terms of cross-border cooperation with numerous actions implemented since the late 1990s. This cooperation has expanded over the years and is occurring with partners further afield, with the exception of the cooperation project in Cerdanya.

Moreover, the frequent contacts between the two ministers of health resulted on 17 October 2005, at a high-level French-Spanish meeting in Barcelona, in the signature of a framework agreement on cross-border cooperation in healthcare and a joint declaration of intent regarding cooperation on the implementation of the Cerdanya cross-border hospital project.

The Cerdanya cross-border hospital, located in Puigcerda (Catalonia), was inaugurated in september 2014. In order to administer its cross-border management, an EGTC (European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation) was created in 2010.

The goal of this ambitious project is to provide the French-Spanish Cerdanya area with a medical structure capable of serving a population of around 30,000 inhabitants (which can rise to 150,000 in the tourist season) in a mountainous and isolated region. It is the only structure of its kind in Europe.

Furthermore, the ALERT project was launched on 17 April 2018 between the Pyrénées-Atlantiques fire department, the government of Navarre, the government of Aragon and the Diputación Foral de Guipúzcoa. Its objective is to develop operational cross-border cooperation to efficiently fight against natural risks as well as those linked to human activity in the region. The agreement takes into account different cooperation environments – mountainous, forest, urban – as well as the management of natural risks. Thereafter, the opening of a cross-border rescue centre in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is planned for November 2019.


Many cross-border training structures exist along the border. Among them, we may mention the following:

  • In the Pyrénées-Orientales, the IFCT (Institut Franco-Catalan Transfrontalier – the French-Catalan Cross-Border Institute), which is unit of the University of Perpignan and forms part of an initiative to create a French centre for training and expertise in Catalan studies and cross-border issues. This institute, which brings together French and Spanish partners, has notably developed a Masters programme in “Cross-Border Relations”.
  • On the Atlantic side, the ACTI (Association pour la Coopération Transfrontalière et Interrégionale – the Association for Cross-Border and Interregional Cooperation), which brings together students on the Masters in “European and International Affairs” specialising in “Cross-Border and Interregional Cooperation” at Bayonne University and which seeks to promote the development of cross-border relations within the framework of the Basque Eurocity.
  • Under the aegis of the University of Toulouse-Le Mirail, a European Masters degree in “Cross-Border Planning and Development of Mountain Regions” has been set up in Foix.

Since 2005, there has also been a cross-border school in Perthus. The experimental educational project in this first “cross-border” school consists of a class of 20 pupils who benefit from a bilingual education: the pupils are taught in French in the morning and in Catalan in the afternoon. The project also includes cultural objectives, with the children learning to better incorporate the cross-border dimension into their daily lives.

The EBROS2020 project gathers the public Universities of Navarre, Rioja, and Lerida in Spain and the University of Pau and Pays de l'Adour and the Federal University of Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées in France. This inter-university network strengthens academic collaboration in terms of innovation and has played a key role in the constitution of a cross-border university network.

The Pyrénées-Méditerranée region has also developed the “Eurocampus Pyrénées Méditerranée”: established in 2009, it is one of the flagship projects of the Euroregion. It creates a research and innovation hub, by bringing together more than 510,000 students and 45,000 researchers. The goal is to encourage the mobility of students in the four border regions. Among the actions already carried out, an internet portal has been launched, and a “Eurocampus” mobility cheque facility has been established. In addition to this facility, language teaching has been provided for and initiatives have been launched for the mobility of teaching staff.


BIHARTEAN, the cross-border chamber of commerce and industry in the Basque Country, is a flagship example of cross-border cooperation in the area of economic development. It was set up as a EEIG in July 2010 by the Bayonne Basque Country Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Gipuzkoa Chamber of Commerce.

Its remit is to support businesses in both border areas in their cross-border projects, to develop cross-border economic projects, to respond to the needs of businesses located on either side of the border and to provide a common range of economic services and training.

The Pyrenees-Mediterranean Euroregion and the Aquitaine-Euskadi Euroregion equiped cross-border regional strategies of economic development and innovation in 2014. The aim of these strategies is to encourage the Euroregional collaboration between public or economic key players. Concretely, they support initiatives that have impacts on a Euroregional scale.

Other cooperation projects in the field of economic development are being developed on the French-Spanish border, for example with the aCCeSS project (“a Crossborder CoopEration fpr Smart Specialisation). Launched in April 2018 and accepted by the POCTEFA programme, the project brings together six universities and two communities of universities and institutions of the cross-border territory ‘and aims to strengthen and facilitate knowledge and technology transfer from the universities to SMEs in the cross-border territory in order to improve their innovation potential’.


Cultural cooperation across the border is manifested in heritage projects such as the Patrim project – cross-border Pyrenean network of heritage centres. It has been supported since 2010 by the POCTEFA EU programme, and consists of cooperation between cultural heritage bodies on the territory (museums, heritage interpretation centres, universities…) in order to jointly organise exhibitions, cultural events, exchanges, training…

Furthermore, the CAPAS-Cité project has been developed, a trans-Pyrenean project within the framework of the POCTEFA Interreg programme, whose objective is “the promotion of physical activity and healthy lifestyles, in order to improve the quality of life within the population and more specifically in disadvantaged neighbourhoods”. To achieve this goal, the project will set up The Pyrenean Centre for Improvement and Promotion of Physical Activity for Health (CAPAS), a cross-border health facility that will be made up of two branches: in Tarbes on the French side, and in Huesca on the Spanish side.

Elsewhere, the EGCT “Country of Art and History - Catalan Valleys of the Tech and the Ter” is an important cross-border player in cultural cooperation at the French-Spanish border. A territorial development body through its organisation of cultural and heritage activities in a rural context, the “Catalan Valleys of the Tech and the Ter” cross-border Country of Art and History was established in 2010 by way of a convention passed with the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, and took the form of a European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) in 2015. It comprises 31 municipalities in the territories of the Pays Pyrénées-Méditerranée in France and the Diputació de Girona in Spain. It pursues a mission of heritage activity coordination in the territory, through numerous projects and initiatives, and for example became lead partner in 2016 on the Patrimc@t EU project, within the POCTEFA programme, for the funding of its territorial facility for heritage interpretation. More info [FR]