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Launching of the Straits Committee

Creation of the Straits Committee in the Dover Strait.

On February 5th was held the launching conference of the Straits Committee in Arras (France). This committee, at the initiative of Pas-de-Calais County Council (France) and Kent County Council (United Kingdom), brought together the Nord County Council (France), the Province of West Flanders (Belgium) and the Province of Zeeland (The Netherlands) for the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding establishing the Straits Committee.

This Committee positions itself as a new forum for dialogue and common work, which aims to respond to several challenges: on the one hand, it is a question of dealing with the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, which will have an impact on existing relations as well as on the territories along the Dover Strait. On the other hand, the Committee intends to promote the development of a new multilateral cooperation method, which will make it possible to pool the contributions previously acquired through existing bilateral cooperation agreements, to deepen them and to extend them to new players.

The Straits Committee is the fruit of a long process of work based in particular on feedback from the Fehmarnbelt Committee. The example of this

 German-Danish body demonstrates the importance of exchanges possible within the European Straits Initiative. These new tools for cross-border cooperation also highlight the many ways of work offered by straits due to their cross-cutting nature and the multiplicity of the issues they cover.

Welcomed by the President of the Pas-de-Calais County Council, the 5 local authorities committed themselves to this new partnership approach in front of the 200 people gathered for this launching conference.

 

Historic moment – first Memorandum of Understanding of the Straits Committee

Jean-Claude LEROY, President of the Pas-de-Calais County Council:

One year after having shown our willingness to create this committee, 5 days after the Brexit, here we are! We have decided not to let our relations become strained; we will not be plugging the Channel Tunnel! I belong to this generation for whom Europe was a promise of peace and prosperity. Our desire is to strengthen development based on partnership rather than competition, to take up the challenge of ecological transition. Thank you for having joined us to carry this common project forward!”.

It is under the watchful eye of the guests and the national press that the representatives of the five communities were able to develop their vision of the Strait and sign this common commitment. Then, they invited the public to continue the day by participating to thematic workshops.

 

Long preparation and high expectations for the future

The Straits Committee was possible thanks to a long process of work that began several months earlier. 

The political representatives of the five communities involved met 3 times in less than 6 months to discuss their expectations and to draw the outlines of this new informal body. At the technical level, many meetings were also necessary to give substance to this ambition and to prepare as well as possible the launching of this innovative cooperation.

It is now time to work in order to see the development of numerous quality projects in this cooperation area, which covers the territories of Kent, Pas-de-Calais, Nord, the province of West Flanders and the Province of Zeeland. The teams of the institutions behind this initiative are organising themselves in order to provide support to the interested stuctures.

Contact

For more information :

Pas-de-Calais County Council

European Affairs Unit

Guillaume MOUCHELET

Tél: (+33) 3 21 21 92 03

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