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Eurorings 1 – Launch seminar


Paris (Hôtel de Ville), April 15, 2002


“Towards a new EU institutional geography for a Europe closer to its citizens”

Organised in partnership with the City of Paris

Seminar’s executive summary


The European institutional system is the result of a double requirement strongly consistent with the specific context of the 50’s :

- Bringing together yesterday’s enemies, which required neutral or symbolic areas/cities likely to favor the European reconciliation as a basis of the European project in its launch-phase

- Making administrations work together, given that the European project was mainly an administrative project, conducted by civil servants according to the administrative and technocratic methods of post-war years; indeed the European administrative system in the 50’s was first and foremost an administrative system.

The European system’s geographical settlement (Brussels-Luxembourg-Strasbourg) and mode of organization (pyramid-based) directly resulted from these requirements; as well as from the technological constraints related to the transportation of people and information in the 50’s.

However, at the beginning of the 21st century, very different requirements weigh upon the European institutional system. Today indeed, it is a matter of involving hundreds of millions of citizens (300 million of Euroland, and 500 million after the enlargement, by the end of this decade) into a diversified European system, in which the administrative component is only one dimension among others; and in which the functioning-model is based on networks of decentralized structures rather than based on pyramids. Moreover, the aspect of “reconciliation of former enemies” is no longer valid as a result precisely of the success of the European construction.

For the EU in the coming decades, the challenges consist to know:

- How to anchor into History a very large political entity that has become a major world player?

- How to bring its institutions closer to the populations which compose this European Union?

To both questions, national histories have shown that part of the solution lied in finding one’s self the best possible capital (sometimes more than one, in the case of strongly decentralized states). This capital (or these cities) represents and hosts the symbolic-institutions of the political power and collective identity. Should these special European cities – our national capitals – be ignored by the European institution system, and should we build new symbols of unity from zero and then try to bring the populations closer to them? Or on the contrary, should we recognize these historical capital cities as a potential symbolic network likely to host the EU institutions, and therefore build upon a natural cultural and political proximity to populations?

Today already, the multiplication of decentralized agencies shows that the institutions have started leaving the institutional cities chosen at the origin. But the settlement of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt has been decisive in the factual emergence of a new geographical distribution of the main European institutions. The choice of Frankfurt was indeed dictated by three requirements of a new kind:

- An inter-institutional practical requirement: to be a city located within a perimeter enabling a daily activity with the other main institutions

- An operational and credibility-related requirement: to be a city with a strong credibility in the field of activity of the concerned institution (money and finance, in this case)

- A political and legitimacy-related requirement: to be a city within a Member-State/Population likely to contribute positively, by the mere establishment of the institution on its territory, to strengthen the credibility, visibility and influence of the concerned institution.

On the other hand, the technological constraints that used to weigh on the transportation of people and information changed considerably in the 80s–90s (TGV and Internet); and it changed most particularly in a specific area, very central to the EU: the Euro-Ring (as it was named in a high-level seminar held in Bonn in November 1999 on the theme « How to build a European administrative network », organized by Europe 2020 and the Zentrum for Europaische Forschung – ZEI). In fact this area gathers all the big cities that are (or are about to be) interconnected in a maximum of 3 hours by high-speed trains. Centered around Brussels, within a radius of 300 km in average, this region gathers cities such as London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Frankfurt, Cologne and Bonn; it concentrates 2/3 of the European riches and 1/5 of its population.

As one can easily see, between the political evolution and the technological developments, the requirements and possibilities at the beginning of this 21st century are very different from those in the 50s.

The coming decade will most certainly witness more and more an irresistible tendency towards the reorganization of the European institutional system along new schemes yet to be clarified.


9.00 – 9.30 : Opening session

. M. Patrick Maisonnave, Advisor on International Affairs to the Mayor of Paris

. M. Ralf Teschner, President Europe 2020

. M. Jean Guyot, President of the Hippocrène Foundation, Former collaborator of Jean Monnet, First Financial Director of the ECSC

9.30 – 10.30 : Presentation of the new politicak and institutional situation in Europe and impact on the institutional geography : the concept of Euro-Ring and the network of European capital cities

. Introduction, by Mr Franck Biancheri, Director of Research and Strategy, Europe 2020

Questions – Round table

10.30 – 10.45 Coffe-break

10.45 – 11.45 : European capital cities facing EU institutional reorganisation : toward a network of European capital cities ?

. Mr. John Biggs, London Assembly Member, Greater London Authority

. Mr. A. J. Hillhorst, Elderman for housing, physical planning and urban renewal, City of The Hague


11.45 – 12.45 : The factual emergence of Euro-Ring – physical mobility in question

. Presentation by Mr Yves Davisse, Marketing Manager, Thalys International

. Presentation by Mr Jozef Fazik, Project officer, International Union of Railways


12.45 – 14.00 : Lunch

14.00 – 15.00 : The new information technologies by 2010 facing the challenge of decentralised EU institutions – information circulation in question

. 2020 – A Europe of Territoriesn, by Mr André Jean-Marc Loechel, European Network of Digital Cities


15.00 – 16.00 : Debate : How to assess the economic impact of the decentralisation of EU institutions?

. Introduction by Mr Arnault Bertrand, Director, Andersen


16.00 – 16.15 : Coffee-break

16.15 – 17.15 : General assessment of the debates ; identification of the next steps (creation an advisory committee, identification of study leads, planning of next meeting)

. Recap by Mr Franck Biancheri, Director of Research and Strategy, Europe 2020

Debate – Propositions

17.15 – 17.30 : End of session


. Violeta Bajenaru, Chef de Projet, TIES

. Arnaud Bertrand, Directeur, Andersen / Barbier Frinault & Associés

. Franck Biancheri, Director of Research and Strategy, Europe 2020

. John Biggs, Assembly Member, Greater London Authority

. Marie-Hélène Caillol, Vice-Présidente, Europe 2020

. Yves Davisse, Directeur Marketing, Thalys International

. Jozef Fazik, Project Officer, Division East-West, International Union of Railways

. Laura Garcia Vitoria, Présidente, ARENOTECH

. Georgeta Grama, Chef de Projet, EU-StudentVote

. Marie Gutmann, Member of the Scientific Committee, Europe 2020

. Jean Guyot, Président de la Fondation Hippocrène

. Dhr A.J.Hillhorst, Elderman for housing, physical planning and urban renewal, City of The Hague

. Dr Alsheimer, Leiter des Dezernatsbüros Finanzen und Referent des Finanzdezernenten, Stadt Frankfurt

. Michel Laissus, Président ADEI

. Josette Larchier-Boulanger, Directiondes Systèmes d’Information et de l’Informatique, EDF-GDF

. André Jean-Marc Loechel, Secretary General, European Network of Digital Cities

. Fred Martinet, Chargée de Veille Innovation, Direction des Systèmes d’Information et de l’Informatique, EDF-GDF

. Patrick Maisonnave, Conseiller Affaires Internationales auprès du Maire de Paris

. Philippe Micaelli, Crédit Agricole Interactive

. Christophe Nonnenmacher, Journalist

. Bart Ouvry, Embassy of Belgium

. Pierre-Marie Pagès, Consultant, AT Kearney

. Philippe Portalier, Adviser, Orgalime

. Marianne Ranke-Cormier, Directrice Administrative, Europe 2020

. Quentine Reville, Lafarge

. Jonathan Robin, Liaison UNESCO-OECD, Internet Society

. Pierre Schapira, Adjoint au Maire de Paris, Chargé des Affaires Internationales et de la Francophonie

. Ralf Teschner, Andersen Consulting

. Jean-François Trolet, Président, Jeunes européens-Strasbourg

. Barbara Wolffer, Chargée du secteur Europe, DGRI, Ville de Paris

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