In one key sentence, Henri Malosse, President of the European Economic and Social Committee, came back to the fundamental principles of the European cooperation, to the essential values that gather partners of several countries to work on a project, a common theme, such as for NOSTRA project.
On Wednesday 22nd October, NOSTRA (Network Of STRAits) was closed in Brussels. NOSTRA is a European cooperation project, carried out by Pas-de-Calais County Council (France, Dover Strait) and gathering 16 partners on 8 straits, from North to South, including Danube delta.Why such a project? For preservation of biodiversity and natural heritage of the European straits and inland territories, such as Dover Strait.
Straits, often unknown, are maritime passage areas between two lands. They are crossroads between two shores that share common issues (governance, natural heritage preservation, mobility, maritime security...).
To answer these issues, Pas-de-Calais County Council and Kent County Council, that share Dover Strait, created the European Straits Initiative (ESI) in 2010.
15 local authorities bordering 8 European straits defined a twofold objective: acting towards the recognition of the specificities of straits areas by the European bodies and encouraging the development of cooperation projects.
NOSTRA project is the first major result of this initiative. The partners have been engaged for 3 years in this project, financed at 75% by the ERDF thanks to the INTERREG IVC programme.
“The objective of NOSTRA project was to analyze the different types of cross-border governance and their capacity to answer to the need to preserve biodiversity and natural heritage of these areas while ensuring a sustainable growth. During three years, series of meetings, workshops and seminars were held on each of the straits in order to identify and share good practices in this field” explains Michel Dagbert, President of Pas-de-Calais County Council (France), Lead partner of the project.
The main outputs of this project are a guide of 50 good practices; 50 concrete experiences of territories to improve public policies. A baseline study also enabled to evaluate the situation of European straits in order to implement positive actions for straits' territories.
During the 3 years of the project, cooperation and exchanges have been strengthened between the partners, as highlighted by Chris Drake, officer in Kent County Council: “NOSTRA enabled to gather the key stakeholders to develop several local projects”.
The project gave birth to 15 implementation plans. Each of them aims at transferring a few good practices from one strait to another in order to improve the local and regional public policies and to work towards a sustainable management of straits’ territories. Each plan is at least partly at the cross-strait scale: it shows the real commitment of local authorities from both sides of each strait to work together.
A summary in English of each implementation plan will soon be available on the project website.
After NOSTRA, the European Straits Initiative
The official closing of NOSTRA project was an opportunity to present the main results of the project at the scale of the partnership and of each strait, but also to officially seal the new Memorandum of Understanding of the European Straits Initiative, which was born in 2010.
This signature aims at proposing new concrete actions around transport, environment and tourism in order to prepare the submission of a new European project.
“The networking of the local authorities bordering European straits has been reaffirmed by all the partners through this signature; it should continue to encourage exchange of experience while becoming a mean to improve the modes of governance in these areas. The European Straits Initiative will continue the actions lead for 4 years now”, explains Michel Dagbert, President of Pas-de-Calais County Council (France), co-lead partner of the ESI.
One thing is certain: thanks to the European Straits Initiative and NOSTRA, the recognition of straits became a reality. Cross-border cooperation, exchange of experiences and good practices, numerous visits and working sessions have enabled concrete realisations and a stronger and stronger partnership.
Find out more about the final conference of NOSTRA project by watching this interview of the representatives of the two lead partners of the European Straits Initiative!