Numerous projects have been launched along the French-German border in very diverse areas (the environment, tourism, health, economic development, territorial planning, etc.). Some of these projects serve as models of cross-border cooperation, such as the “Science Offensive” (“Offensive Sciences” in French) and the Infobest network.
MOBILITY OF CROSS-BORDER COMMUTERS AND EMPLOYMENT
Currently, there are 46,000 French cross-border workers working in Germany (source : Commissariat général à l'égalité des territoires, 2017).
Concerning employment, the French-German cross-border cooperation is intensifying due to numerous initiatives.
On 26 February 2013, a cooperation framework agreement between the regional head offices of Pôle emploi in Alsace and Lorraine and their German counterparts in Baden-Württemberg, Saarland, and Rhineland-Palatinate, regions was concluded and signed.
Five German-French placement centres have been created according to the framework of the Saarbrücken process (Franco-German job centre of Strasbourg-Ortenau; in the Haguenau, Wissembourg, Landau, and the Karlsruhe-Rastatt area; in the Upper Rhine, Freiburg, and Lörrach area; in Sarreguemines-Saarbrücken; and in Sélestat / Freiburg – Emmendingen). The outcome for 2016 was 950 candidates followed-up each month, and the placement of 1430 job seekers.
In 2013, the two governments called furthermore for the implementation of a plan for youth employment "aimed at offering better training, integration in the job market, and improvement of mobility conditions".
Some other examples of projects in this field :
- EURES network: Upper Rhine EURES-T or EURES T SLLRP (Saarland, Lorraine, Luxembourg, Rhineland-Palatinate).
Furthermore the Infobest network comprises four information and advice centres for cross-border issues in the Upper Rhine. Located along the border (in Lauterbourg, Kehl, Vogelgrun and Village-Neuf), the Infobest centres dealt with 170,000 cross-border queries over the past 15 years. The issues dealt with by the Infobest network are very varied and relate to the daily lives of people living in the border region: taxes, pensions, employment law, unemployment, health insurance, benefits, vehicle registration, etc. In all of these areas, people living close to the border encounter difficulties with respect to administrative procedures. The Infobest advisors thus serve as an interface: without taking the place of the competent administrations, they facilitate the resolution of the users’ problems by coordinating the responses from the French, German and Swiss administrations. To do this, the Infobest centres draw on a network of administrations with which they cooperate closely. The Infobest centres, which are financed by the French, German and Swiss regional authorities in the Upper Rhine, provide information and advice free of charge.
Education, APPRENTICESHIP, VOCATIONAL TRAINING and higher education
On 12 September 2013, a Framework Agreement on cross-border apprenticeship was signed by 28 Upper Rhine partners.
This initiative of the Upper Rhine Conference is intended to encourage and facilitate the cross-border mobility of apprentices. On 20 June 2014, the Regional Council of Lorraine and the Land of Saar signed a framework agreement on cross-border cooperation for initial and continuous vocational training in order to develop cooperation in this area through strategic objectives.
Some examples :
- Franco-German cross-border Second Chance School.
- The Strasbourg-Ortenau Eurodistrict apprenticeship scheme: 1000 apprenticeship contracts were concluded in 2015.
- Certi-Rhin - Cross-border vocational training network.
- Certi-BIO-Rhin - Cross-border vocational training network for organic agriculture.
Other example :
- A University for Europe : Eucor – The European Campus : The first European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) to be set up by an alliance of universities is located in the Upper Rhine area. In December 2015, the Universities of Basle, Freiburg, Upper Alsace and Strasbourg, together with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, signed the documents establishing “Eucor – The European Campus”, a trinational European campus. In the context of this project, “Eucor – the European Campus” – the first European university – intends to establish a joint structural and development plan, remove administrative barriers and create synergies in research, training, higher education and administration to serve the 15,000 researchers and teaching staff as well as the 115,000 students. The aim is to establish a place where learning and research can thrive without walls or borders and serve as a magnet for attracting the best young international researchers and students.
INNOVATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Cross-border cooperation regarding economic development is often made complex by divergent framework conditions of companies, often in favour of Germany, benefitting in particular from foreign investments.
SMEs may also have difficulties working on the neighbouring labour market (due to linguistic and administrative problems or a lack of time for prospecting). However, seeking to work on the other side the border is often the first step towards the conquest of international markets, external to the cross-border territory and a factor of growth for a company.
Few actors are looking to create a dynamic of cooperation between companies through cross-border networking (subcontracting, innovation) or to encourage access to the market on the other side of the border.
The Science Offensive project of the Alsace Region and the Länder of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate is an interesting example of close articulation of policies and funding granted by communities with an Interreg program and a strategy of cross-border cooperation.
In 2011, the partners launched a call for common projects to three institutions and to the Interreg Upper Rhine programme to support actions in the field of innovation and research according to the priorities identified by the Trinational Metropolitan Region science pillar.
For the first time, in this programme, a single financing plan (50% ERDF grant, 30% national counterparts, and 20% self-financing) as well as project selection criteria were agreed upon jointly by the three partners.
The selection and instruction procedure was managed jointly for the ERDF and the national counterparts (in France and Germany).
The final selection of the projects passed to a group of French and German scientific experts chosen by the three partners.
Among the 36 proposals submitted, seven projects were selected for a period of three years with a global budget of EUR 10 million.
The winners implement actions distinguished by their innovative character and their high scientific value in areas such as materials science, chemistry, medicine, life sciences, energy, the environment, and culture.
Offensive Sciences provides an example of a simplification of procedures and consistent use of the various financing opportunities available to cross-border projects.
See the project factsheet by clicking here.
urban planning, transports
Franco-German cooperation in these fields is active, as we can notice with examples such as:
- A cross-border tramline between Strasbourg and Kehl : Since the 29 April 2017 the Line D of the Strasbourg tram network was extended by 2,6 km to reach Kehl railway station, serving the new neighbourhood of Deux Rives on its way. The initiative required the construction of a new bridge and many technical meetings to decide on the arrangements regarding the management of pricing, rolling stock and operating costs, and connections to existing public transport networks. One of the essential conditions for the success of the project was also the sharing of its overall cost of nearly €100 million, allocated proportionally to the length of the route in France and Germany. On the eve of the launch of the tram, there was an inaugural crossing bringing together officials from both countries, during which the name of the new bridge was unveiled – Beatus Rhenanus – as a tribute to a Franco-German humanist (1485-1547).