Levels of governance
At present, there is no permanent body or bilateral political dialogue at the level of the central States for discussing issues of French-Italian neighbour relations in matters of territorial development. On the French-Italian border this role is played by a number of sector-based intergovernmental committees.
AT BORDER LEVEL
Legally, there exists an intergovernmental neighbour relations committee, established in 1981 by an exchange of letters and intended to settle problems in French-Italian neighbour relations. However, the committee has not met since 1996 and, despite attempts to revive it, its work has not been resumed. A sector-based approach has consequently taken the place of an overall governance approach. There are several joint intergovernmental committees, dealing with sector issues such as transport infrastructure:
- The Mont Blanc Tunnel Intergovernmental Supervisory Committee, established in 1957, was renewed by an agreement signed in 2006, following the 1999 disaster. The agreement designates a European economic interest grouping (EEIG) as the sole management organisation of the tunnel and tightens the rules on traffic in the tunnel, penalties for offences, and police checks.
- The Fréjus Tunnel Intergovernmental Committee, made up of representatives of the French and Italian regulatory ministries, monitors the tunnel concession and takes decisions in application of the powers delegated by the governments and measures to facilitate construction and operation of the tunnel.
- The French-Italian Intergovernmental Committee for the Nice-Cuneo Link changed its name in 1998 to become the Intergovernmental Committee for Improvement of French-Italian Links in the Southern Alps. It is tasked with carrying out studies and holding talks for preparing the decisions of the two governments with regard to multimodal development of French-Italian links in the Southern Alps between the Col du Fréjus and the Mediterranean.
- The French-Italian Lyon-Turin Intergovernmental Committee is tasked with monitoring the progress of the programme of studies and the works on the French-Italian section of the Saint Jean de Maurienne – Lower Susa Valley rail link, contracted to Lyon Turin Ferroviaire LTF SAS, a joint subsidiary of RFF and RFI. It provides the competent French and Italian ministries with information necessary for the decision process. It has set up several working groups on technical issues, safety, economic, legal and financial issues and modal transfer.
- The French-Monacan Cooperation Committee (CCFM) is the key body in the very deep bilateral relations between France and Monaco. It is jointly presided by the Secretary General of France’s Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and by the Minister of State of the Principality of Monaco. The matters addressed are: the process of rapprochement with the EU undertaken by Monaco, cooperation in health matters, shared economic interests, and international issues.
AT REGIONAL LEVEL
Cross-border governance remains rather undeveloped at regional level. Cooperation was coordinated in the past by the Alpes-Méditerranée Euroregion (established in 2006), which was formed by five French and Italian regions (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Liguria, Piedmont, Aosta Valley). It superseded the Communauté de travail des Alpes occidentales (COTRAO), established in 1982 and now inactive. The Swiss cantons of Geneva, Valais and Vaud, members of the COTRAO, were not included in the Euroregion.
Due to the inactive status of the Euroregion, cross-border governance at regional level is today mainly provided by the Interreg programme. The development of the PITER and PITEM in the 2014-2020 Alcotra programming period has notably enabled the implementation of territorial and thematic strategies. Within this cooperation area, the regions play a full part in cross-border matters despite difficulties in governance and in setting up projects due to the asymmetry of powers, the Italian regions having much greater powers than their French equivalents.
The most active participants in the French regions include the Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur regional council, particularly in the monitoring and coordination of the Alcotra programme, and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regional council, which supports the PITER and PITEM projects through its policy of sustainable development contracts (CDDRA). The Collectivité territoriale de Corse (Corsica territorial authority) is mainly involved in maritime cooperation with Sardinia.
On the Italian side of the border, the Piedmont region has a broader strategic position, on the scale of the Alps, put into practice through strong support for the definition of a strategy for the Alps. Aosta Valley maintains preferential partnerships with Haute-Savoie (including a cooperation agreement dating from 2007), Savoie and, to a lesser degree, with the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Liguria is a partner in the two French-Italian programmes, so its interests are driven both by the Alcotra programme and the maritime programme. Tuscany, the managing authority of the Italy-France (Maritime) programme, has preferential relations with Corsica and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and a strategic focus on the Mediterranean. Lastly, Sardinia cooperates with Corsica, on common territorial issues.
AT DEPARTMENT/PROVINCE LEVEL
At department/province level, two cooperation organisations bring cross-border cooperation participants together on defined topics: the Conférence des Trois Provinces, currently inactive, which brings together the department of Alpes-Maritimes and the provinces of Cuneo and Imperia, and the Conférence des Alpes Franco-Italienne (1996).
Established in 1998, the Conférence des Alpes Franco-Italienne brings together Alpes-Maritimes, Alpes de Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Isère, Savoie and Haute-Savoie department councils in France, and in Italy the provinces of Imperia and Cuneo, the Metropolitan City of Turin, and the Aosta Valley autonomous region. It is the vector for the cooperation policies of its members and the development of joint operational capabilities. It is also the forum for discussion of projects set up and funded by the member authorities and in some cases by the Alcotra programme.
The French departments are heavily involved as participants in cooperation, particularly in the Interreg programmes. The Alpes-Maritimes department council takes a special interest in cooperation on transport. Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Savoie and Haute-Savoie focus their cooperation around key areas of mountain policies.
The Italian province of Cuneo and the Metropolitan City of Turin are traditionally heavily involved in cross-border cooperation. The territorial reorganisation enacted as part of the Delrio Law in 2014 has transformed the Province of Turin into a Metropolitan City. Turin has become not only the Metropolitan City with the largest area in Italy, but also the only one to share a border with another European country.
AT LOCAL LEVEL
Numerous cooperation organisations have been set up at local level on the French-Italian border, including:
- Espace Mont Blanc
- Conférence des Hautes-Vallées
- Parc National du Mercantour - Parco delle Alpi Maritime
- Bouches de Bonifacio International Marine Park
At the level of the conurbations, the Métropole Nice-Côte d’Azur (NCA), established in 2011, is a key player in cross-border cooperation. However, while it shares a territorial continuity with Piedmont through its mountainous areas, it is with Liguria and particularly with Genoa that the Métropole has formed preferential relations. A number of agreements and protocols bind Nice to the neighbouring Italian regions:
- The Partnership Charter between the City of Nice and the municipalities of Apricale, Dolceacqua, Isolabona, Perinaldo, Pigna, Rocchetta Nervina, signed on 26 March 2010. This partnership charter aims to renew the ties of friendship between Nice and 6 Italian municipalities of Imperia province that belonged to the historic County of Nice until 1860. One of the charter’s goals is the intensification of exchanges in fields related to culture, the economy and tourism with the development of cross-border tourism.
- The Partnership Protocol between the municipality of Genoa and the Nice Côte d’Azur Urban Community (now the Métropole). Signed in 2011, this protocol is intended to strengthen the cohesion and the attractiveness of the cross-border territories concerned as well as to promote a common plan for economic development. This cooperation aims to strengthen cross-border exchanges and partnership projects between institutional, academic and economic players and representatives of civil society. It should enable the two cities to enlarge their spheres of influence and to develop an active policy for exchanges, networking and metropolitan cooperation in Europe.
- The Pact of Friendship between the City of Nice and the City of Turin, signed in December 2018, addresses cultural, environmental, technological and security issues. It is centred on new cooperation projects to develop between the two cities and particularly on the EU project “Pactesur”, focused on security.
Cross-border cooperation undertaken by the Communauté d’Agglomération de la Riviera Française (10 municipalities, including four bordering Italy) takes the form of a preferential relationship with Ventimiglia.
A number of bodies oversee French-Monacan cross-border cooperation at the local level:
- The French-Monacan Local Cross-border Cooperation Committee was established in 2005 and revived in 2013. It has no fixed objective and addresses the following subjects: bilateral cooperation on security matters; traffic problems, social problems between the neighbouring municipalities and the Principality. There are also two other French-Monacan bodies: the Bilateral committee for supervision of the social security convention (health issues), and the Joint Commission on Fiscality (supervision of the fiscal convention of 1963 et in particular the apportionment of VAT).
- A Framework Convention for Partnership on digital innovation was established in 2015 between the Government of the Principality of Monaco and the Métropole Nice Côte d’Azur. The partnership is focused on: establishing a cross-border digital space; exchanging experience and research on “smart city” solutions; cooperation on matters of economic development and attractiveness of the two digital territories).