Instituted on 28 January 2008, the Eurometropolis is the 1st ETCG (European Territorial Cooperation Group) in Europe and aims at facilitating the cooperation between 3 major French and Belgian regions: the Lille metropolis, Wallonie picarde and the southern and central parts of West Flanders. 2.1 million inhabitants, numerous companies and associations, commuters and other actors benefit from this cooperation on a daily basis. In addition, it promotes the Eurometropolis’ many assets on an international level. After having defined its objectives and general organisation, the Eurometropolis Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai (based at Lille (F)) has gradually developed an Agency, which is established at Kortrijk (B). This operational platform, currently consisting of 12 “integrators”, is responsible for the coordination and consultation between the 14 founding members. The latter cover the 4 essential levels of governance (States/Regions/Departments or Provinces/Inter-communal authorities) while remaining connected to the 147 municipalities of the Eurometropolis, the actual drivers of its development. With the support of its partners, the Agency has been translating the objectives and decisions of the Assembly and the Board of the Eurometropolis into concrete actions for two and a half years. It also provides technical assistance to the FORUM, the Eurometropolis’ consultative assembly consisting of 80 representatives of civil society.
The Eurometropolis focuses its development on 3 strategic elements, which are mutually intertwined:
- an action plan for 2012-2013,
- a strategic programme for the period 2014-2020 and
- a vision for the 2030 horizon.
The Eurometropolis has developed several concrete projects, including:
- a physical and virtual platform for the promotion of innovation (Innov’eurometropolis), centred around 4 thematic clusters,
- a joint initiative to promote the region’s economic assets with investors all over the world (Investineurometropolis)
- a tourism website enabling visitors to discover the entire region (3,550 km²)(www.visiteurometropolis.eu).
- improvement of the quality of railway connections between the main cities (rates, ticketing technology, frequency, punctuality).
- cooperation between the employment services of the 3 vectors beyond the organisation of the cross-border employment Forum (18,000 job offers in 2012; participation of 120 enterprises from the 3 vectors; 8000 visitors).
The Eurometropolis also mobilises collective intelligence to:
- approach the competent authorities at the highest levels, in particular for the Seine-Nord Europe Canal project, an essential missing link in the Seine Escaut (Scheldt) project, which is undeniably critical for the structural development of Europe as a whole.
- further mutual understanding and discuss all issues, even the most delicate ones (cross-border police cooperation).
Furthermore, it has developed a labelling and partnership policy for cross-border projects driving the region’s development and enhancing the spirit of cooperation in the Eurometropolis. These projects must meet 5 very specific criteria. The Agency can provide support to the different actors of the Eurometropolis in their efforts to liaise with partners on the other side of the border.
The Eurometropolis has been preparing its strategic programme since mid-2012. Each of the partners will embrace this programme both during its development and during its implementation stage. The partners have jointly developed three major, cross-disciplinary themes: development of the economic potential, improvement of internal mobility and international accessibility of the region, and development of the blue and green networks with a view to creating additional value and enhancing the region’s attractiveness. This programme should be adopted by mid-2013.
Where its long-term vision, i.e. the 2030 horizon, is concerned, the Eurometropolis will focus on:
- the creation of partnership tools enabling the gathering of the information to be collected, observed and mapped, for a better view of the future (e.g. cross-border observatory, cross-border planning platform,…)
- the collective intelligence, by calling upon experts, different actors and civil society within the context of conferences and workshops on the metropolisation of the region and in conjunction with the Lille metropolitan area (established in the heart of the old coal mining area in the southern part of the Lille metropolitan region. It is essential to provide a joint answer to the following question: what does the Eurometropolis we want to create for our users look like ?
Finally, the ongoing assessment of the Eurometropolis will undoubtedly enable the latter to identify new challenges in order to better perform its coordinating activities and promote the concrete implementation of the actions planned. The results of this assessment are expected in the second half of 2013.
More information : www.eurometropolis.eu