A brief by Tamara Guirao, CAAC Coordinator
Earmarked by the Common Strategic Framework, the Atlantic Strategy has to contribute to a polycentric Europe. Thus, the relationship with other macro-regional strategies and international cooperation of the European Atlantic territories with their neighbours on the other shore must be considered, given the great potential that present these initiatives. Moreover, participation and ownership of the strategy by the ultra-peripheral regions and cities is a binding condition.
The CAAC is the urban forum of reference for the Atlantic Arc, by promoting a model of attractive, green and solidarity-based cities. Facing the Atlantic Arc specificities, the CAAC takes action (campaigns, projects, events, position papers) to promote cooperation in the territories, for the recognition of the vital role of cities and to establish a common response to urban economic, social and environmental. Both its Founding Charter (the Declaration of Rennes) and its Statutes promote “international cooperation especially developing relationships with the cities of America, the Mediterranean and African Atlantic Arc.” This cooperation between cities is very advanced in the bilateral dimension, as twinning agreements between cities of both shores are numerous. In contrast, network cooperation depends on outside agencies (international institutions) not strictly Atlantic sectoral initiatives (Mexico Pact for Climate, for example) or temporary campaigns, usually with a humanitarian aim (decentralized cooperation, as the case of Haiti.)
Concentrating most of the population, cities are essential to build a transatlantic cooperation that includes citizens. Even more in the context of the ongoing negotiations between the various States that compose the Atlantic Area. Looking for efficiency and synergies, it is clear that networks’ experience as the Conference of Atlantic Arc Cities can become the appropriate Forum to build effective cooperation, durable and close to the people, in the three continents involved.
As for the macro-regional strategies, CAAC has a cooperation agreement with the Union of Baltic Cities since 2004. Building on that experience, both networks created in 2010, CECICN, the Conference of European Cross-Border and Inter-regional City Networks that gathers together more than 500 cities all around Europe, represented by other on-going macro-regions like the Adriatic or the Mediterranean.
If cities become the core, the Atlantic Strategy represents a lifetime opportunity to build a citizen-oriented, polycentric Europe.