In what concrete ways can communes work together? Which cooperation projects already exist or are in the course of being implemented? How can links between the communes and the Eurometropolis' thematic working groups be strengthened?
In the course of 2011, the Eurometropolis surveyed the 147 communes within its borders, asking about the expectations of local players and identifying practical and concrete projects as a basis for defining areas of cooperation. The current status is that more than 40% of communes have already answered the questionnaire. Questions looked into relations between the Eurometropolis and the communes on the one hand, and into inter-communal links and projects on the other. These two areas were thus the focal point of the Annual Mayors' Conference.
Optimising public relations, sharing projects
In the area of public relations, the survey results showed that a majority of communes had never actually visited the Eurometropolis website (www.eurometropolis.eu) and that only 20% of communes were currently disseminating information on the Eurometropolis. By contrast, 82% of communes were prepared to designate a contact person within their ranks as a way of facilitating and optimising relations with the Eurometropolis. 68% also expressed their desire to be supported in their European approach and work.
In the area of inter-communal cooperation, 2/3 were already engaged in cooperation projects. The main themes the communes wanted to develop and share were tourism, regional development, culture, employment and mobility.
Highlighting best practices
Twinning communes, "triads", micro-projects ... there is a whole range of local initiatives available. Carl Vereecke, Mayor of Kuurne, Alfred Gadenne, Mayor of Mouscron and Alain Bernard, Mayor of Bouvines each presented their experience. Since 2002 for instance, Kuurne and Marcq en Baroeul are twinned together and have been involved in joint projects in the areas of sports, business, culture and social affairs. A cooperation charter encourages exchanges between local citizens and clubs. Mouscron and Tourcoing have a 12 km common border. They have together set up cooperation projects in the fields of security, mobility and education. Last but not least, the two communes, Bouvines and Tournai, have come together via an Interreg micro-project and a project focusing on the old Roman road between Tournai and Seclin.
As a follow-up to the survey and the expectations expressed by the communes, the Eurometropolis will be putting forward proposals to the 147 communes in early 2012, aimed at bringing them closer together and further increasing the number of cooperation projects.