The English Channel is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, primarily because of its strategic location as the entry/exit door to the European Union. It links the Atlantic Ocean with the North Sea, which generates considerable flows in people and goods, and makes it one of the main exchange zones in Europe.
It engenders a concentration of maritime opportunities, but also risks, which explains the co-operation between French and British local authorities in areas like maritime security, marine pollution prevention or the preservation of biodiversity.
This area is 112,519 sqm. Large, including the 530 islands it encompasses.
The area's total population was 17,503,211 inhabitants in 2002, of which 5,445,000 resided in the United Kingdom and 12,058,211 in France. The population density at this time was 212,1175 inhabitants per sqm.
Total GDP (1998–2000) : 364,829 million Euros
GDP per capita (1998–2000) : 20,395 Euros
The economic structure of the area is heterogeneous. The North of France is a highly industrialised area, whereas the rich South East of England mostly relies on high tech services and the tourism sector. In France and Great Britain, the most western part of the area has a more rural economy relying on agriculture and tourism: Britanny, Lower Normandy, Cornwall. Fishing is also, in some parts of the area, an important activity. There are 18 maritime quarters and 50 important fishing ports in the area.
Tourism is a structuring activity for the area : in 2004, about 84 million tourists have travelled within the Channel area. 32 sites are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites, like the Jurassic Coast, the Mont Saint-Michel, Stonehenge or the city of Le Havre.
The promotion of the Channel Arc Manche co-operation network originates from two main concerns :
- To develop the recognition of the Channel Arc among political and institutional stakeholders, may they be private, local, national or European.
It entails interventions at the national and European levels, the reinforcement of a common strategic vision to be able to have influence on the European regional policy, and for the specificities of this maritime space to be taken into account.
- Promote and intensify Franco-British Cooperation
By constituting a stakeholders’ network on coastal and maritime issues, by encouraging co-operation in areas of common interest, by supporting exchanges in economic, social, cultural and administrative realms.
2001–2002 : consultation of local executives concerning the revival of the Channel Arc Manche.
20 March 2003 : Common declaration, signed by the 5 French Regions bordering the Channel and 5 Southern England local authorities.
2005 : Creation of the Channel Arc Manche Assembly : Alain Le Vern, President of the Haute-Normandie Region, is elected chairman and Brad Watson becomes vice-chairman.
2004 : Espace Manche Development Initiative project, which was elaborated within the framework of the Interreg European programme.
2006 – Following the lobbying efforts of the Channel Arc Manche Assembly towards the European Union, the French and British territories bordering the Channel become fully eligible to the cross-border cooperation programmes. First Conference of the Channel Arc Manche Assembly in Fontwell Park (West Sussex). Presentation of the Channel area strategic vision, elaborated within the framework of the EMDI project.
2007 – creation of the Channel's federation of regional and local ports in Saint-Brieuc. Brad Watson becomes president of the Channel Arc Manche Assembly.
2008 : (June) publication of the book "Channel Spaces, a world within Europe", edited by Pascal Buléon and Louis Shurmer-Smith. (December) – Conference of the Channel Arc Manche Assembly in Folkestone, about coastal zones’ adjustment to climate change.
2009 : (June) Approval of the CAMIS (Channel Arc Manche Integrated Strategy) project, co-financed by the Interreg IVA France (Channel) – England programme. In December, Channel Arc Manche Conference in Rouen : « What are the challenges for coastal economies in the Channel? Trends, current situations and local experience in coastal towns. »
2011 : Annual conference of the Channel Arc Manhe in Fécamp : "Tackling maritime pollution risks in the Channel for local authorities" parallel to the CAMIS project. Adpoption of the Fécamp Declaration.
Full members are the French Regions and the English local authorities bordering the Channel. Associate members are all other organisations located on this territory and willing to contribute to the achievement of the Channel Arc Manche Assembly's objectives.
'Full members' :
Regions : Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Picardy, Upper Normandy, Lower Normandy, Brittany.
County Councils : Kent, West Sussex, Hampshire, Devon, Brighton and Hove, Southampton.
Associate members : East Sussex and the Isle of Wight.
The Bureau consists of the chairman and the Vice-Chairman of the Assembly. It is respectively Alain Le Vern, is President of the Haute-Normandie Region. They are elected by full members for two years, and there is an alternation between the French and the British Presidency.
Assisted by the vice-chairman, the chairman must represent and advocate the objectives of the Channel Arc Assembly towards European and national institutions, elaborate common declarations, and make sure the decisions of the Assembly are implemented.
It gathers full and associate members and the other organisations interested in the Channel Arc Manche. Its yearly meeting takes place during the first week of July, and all members can exchange good practices and identify potential co-operation areas.
It consists of all the full members and takes the decisions necessary to the achievements of the Channel Arc Manche Assembly's objectives. It gathers at least twice a year and decisions are taken through consensus.
It deals with day-to-day running, the preparation and the follow up of the executive committee's and the annual Conference's work, as well as the website.
The Channel Arc Manche does not have a budget in itself. The means dedicated by its members to the co-operation network mostly consist of working time and limited logistic expenses. European structural funds are often requested to finance co-operation projects within the Channel area.
European funding, in particular the European Regional Development Fund, enables the Interreg co-operation programmes to support Franco-British co-operation projects of different scales. 173 million Euros have been allocated to Franco-British co-operation in the Channel between 2007 and 2013. Along with all other projects, the Channel Arc Manche partnership supports more particularly large and structuring projects for the area such as EMDI or CAMIS.
The EMDI project, which gathered 22 partners between 2004 and 2008, aimed to develop and reinforce Franco-British co-operation within the Channel area. 48% of its budget was co-funded by the Interreg IIIB co-operation programme. It led to :The elaboration of a strategic vision document for the Channel area.
The development of pilot co-operation actions : tourism, fishing, fisheries, coastal zones integrated management, maritime security, intermodal transport, higher education, research and development, technology transfers.
The publication of the bilingual book Channel Spaces, a World Within Europe in 2007.
The maps of the Channel area strategic vision
The Crosschannel Atlas, a Franco-British research collaboration about the Channel area.
The recognition by EU institutions of the Channel area as a fully pertinent area for cross-border cooperation.
The CAMIS project (2009–2013), with a 3.3 million euros budget, half of which is funded by the Interreg IVA France (Channel) England programme, gathers 10 local authorities from Britain and France and 9 organisations.
Aims :Promote the specificity of the Channel area in the local, national and Eropean spheres
Improve the knowledge of this area in various realms (geography, economy, biology, etc.)
Develop intermodal transport
Develop innovation, workforce development, economic growth
Create common tools to facilitate and improve the management of certain aspects of the maritime zone such as the Cross channel Forum or the Common resources center.
Ultimately, develop and implement an integrated maritime strategy in the Channel area.