End of June, during the General Assembly of CAAC in Niort an under the activities of TONETA project, special attention was paid to city networks. After the technical sessions and a session on the future of cohesion policy from an urban point of view, the last part of Friday focused on urban networking through the Atlantic.
M. Philippe Duron French MP, Caen Mayor and CAAC president, reflected the long tradition of cooperation in the Atlantic Area till nowadays. It is need to emphasize that already in 1296, the cities of Santander, Laredo, Castro, Bermeo, Guetaria, San Sebastian Fuenterrabía and Vitoria had signed a kind of twinning charter, creating a community of interests in the Atlantic trade. The Conference of Atlantic Arc Cities, established in 2000 at the initiative of Mr. Edmond Hervé, then Mayor of Rennes, currently represents over 100 local units and 7 million people in the cities of the European Atlantic seaboard which are mostly twinned among them. Similar initiatives breed in different areas that make up the European Union. Not to mention the CPMR Geographical Commissions of the regions, to urban scale we can call the Union of Baltic Cities, Medcités, the Adriatic Forum and the RIET and the MOT Cross-Border Networks. Together with these organisations, CAAC has created a network of networks in 2010, known as CECICN.
For Philippe Lavaud, president of AIRE 198, urban networks promote regional development and territorial cohesion. They are one of the relays for the implementation of EU programs, to bring down the European political area in the heart of territories. Cohesion policy should rely more on medium-sized cities exercising real polarities which are actually a driving force. The European Commission recognizes the urban fact and its role in the implementation of European policies. But the translation in the financial programs and structural funds is not very readable. All projects supported by the cities show that this level is appropriate to implement cohesion policy and allow the EU to have its main political developments. As a hint, he described the different projects AIRE 198 is involved in, such as TONETA, START, CLIMA ATLANTIC, IMAGINA ATLANTICA, etc…
Jean-François Retière, Vice-President of Nantes Métropole and President of the CIVINET French network presented this last one. CIVINET is a network of cities for cities which aims to find urban mobility solutions. It is also a new project of the CIVITAS Initiative that intends to build national networks of CIVITAS cities. As for the French brand, Newsletters and webplatform to exchange information are key activities.