How does Europe benefit your city on a daily basis?
Through its Regional and Urban Policy, the European Union has managed to become a key player in the development and balance of our territories. Since 2000, Europe has supported several notable projects: facilities and amenities of the Residence Saint-Pol, digital projects of the Hospital Centre of Arras, the extension of the nautical base in Saint-Laurent-Blangy as part of Olympic training, credits specific for professional integration and training, biodiversity operations, and energy savings projects. As Mayor and Secretary General of Villes de France, I stand for the future reconnection between the institutions and the citizens and actors of the territory. Europe, as of 2020, must be equipped with a proposal for Medium-sized Cities so that the Operational Programs may have a real urban objective.
As a local elected representative, what are your expectations of the European institutions?
Within the territory, two major expectations are distinguished. Firstly, the partnership between the European institutions and the medium-sized cities must be strengthened over time. Our primary concern is that cohesion policy meets the needs of citizens. This is why local elected representatives must participate and better integrate in the construction of the European project. On the other hand, the European institutions must come closer to the citizens and we must all defend a shared European vision. I propose to the European, national and local decision-makers, the experimentation of a European strategy for the medium-sized cities based on their nodal character and balance in the planning of the territory. The European Funds could have a global and transversal vision of the urban fact. Within the Operational Programs, a dedicated territorial axis would break down its intervention levers by type of territory: medium-sized cities, “large territories”, rural areas, and troubled districts. The territories would mobilize the funds on the basis of an operational, prospective and shared Territory Project.
Why must European funds be saved for all regions?
We are on the eve of the European elections, at a time when the European Union is raising some concern, the maintenance of the cohesion policy for all territories is essential to renew the European project in proximity with citizens. Our territories still suffer from fractures and face challenges of territorial, economic and social cohesion. Our medium-sized cities must thus innovate and find sustainable solutions in order to reinforce cohesion through structuring projects. Pockets of poverty must for example be treated at the same time as our issues of territorial balance because it is absolutely necessary to promote our attractiveness to guarantee employment, territorial cohesion, creativity and economic and social development. Our medium-sized cities, from upstream to downstream, must now, not be associated or consulted, but co-build with the European institutions, the state, and the regions.