The ‘EuroRegion Alsace’, an administrative renaissance of Alsace

It is a small revolution that would take place in Alsace on 1st January 2021. It is true that the two departments of Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin is united in a joint ‘Collectivité européenne d’Alsace’ (CeA). This community takes over the responsibility of the two departments and gains new privileges.

Long asked for, long awaited, this association was negotiated between the state government and local lawmakers from 2018. With the decision, Alsace actually wishes to present itself as a pioneer in the decentralisation process. But the experiment could have a successor, at least that is what the French government wants to aim for. “The community is ahead of tomorrow’s institutional scheme,” said Edouard Philippe at the end of October 2018 after signing the joint declaration on the CEA.

The community will primarily be endowed with specific educational skills. Of course, it will determine how it wants to teach the regional culture and bilingualism to the pupils and students. The authority over the highways and motorways, which the previous departments had not yet transferred (more than 300 km), is delegated to the community. This decision should allow local MPs to charge a fee for heavy commercial vehicles that have been congesting the region’s road network since 2005 and the introduction of a fee in Germany. The CEA will also be gaining new responsibilities in the field of tourism, with the community being able to promote its tourist activities throughout France and abroad, a particularly important point for this border district. The particular geographic location of the CEA also means that the central government might delegate which competences have responsibilities in the area of ​​cross-border cooperation. Through an Alsatian department council, the community can now determine the most important goals and questions of cooperation with Germany and Switzerland.

As a pioneer, with an influential regional tradition and strong cross-border roots, Alsace will perhaps be an example for other departments. Who will dare to follow in its footsteps?

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