Bihartean cross-border Chamber of Commerce and Industry (France - Spain)


Cross-border cooperation is a partnership between private or public players, separated by a State border, whose actions have repercussions at regional and local level on either side of the border. Within the European area, 360° mobility across the border, the projects and policies that accompany this mobility in territories close to the border, and the progressive cross-border integration that this cooperation builds and gives rise to cross-border territories, characterise different experiences. To illustrate the results of more than 20 years of cooperation within the Mission Opérationnelle Transfrontalière (MOT), 20 unique experiments conducted by MOT members for the benefit of the inhabitants of cross-border territories were highlighted in various fields: here we address the issue of economic development through the example of the Basque Bihartean project, initiated by the Bayonne CCI and the Gipuzkoa Cámara de Comercio, to meet the needs of businesses located in each territory and create a joint economic and training offer. In 2018, Navarre joined the group, and BIHARTEAN is now made up of 3 territories: the Basque Country, Euskadi and Navarre, represented by the Bayonne Pays Basque CCI, the Cámara de Gipuzkoa and the Cámara de Navarra.

The border gives rise to differences in taxation, salaries, unemployment rates, prices, languages, administrative frameworks, working methods and employment law, which, depending on the point of view adopted, constitute obstacles or opportunities. These differences create competitive situations from which households and businesses can take advantage in their choice of location and use of markets (particularly the labour market) on the other side of the border. Public and private players find themselves in a complex game of competition and cooperation. The aim is to move from pure competition to « co-opetition », which combines cooperation and competition.

The « BIHARTEAN » cross-border chamber of commerce and industry is the first European example of a cross-border structure created by two chambers of commerce. Founded in 2010 jointly by the Bayonne-Pays Basque CCI and the Càmara de Comercio de Gipuzkoa, it takes the form of a European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG). BIHARTEAN meets the needs of companies located in the Basque Country, on both sides of the Franco-Spanish border. In 7 years, it has supported 1,100 businesses in all economic sectors, helped to implement cross-border economic projects and strengthened business networking through digital tools (see the « Cross-border business opportunities » section). At European level, this action has been recognised by its integration into the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). The projects funded under Interreg POCTEFA, the strategic collaboration with the New Aquitaine-Euskadi-Navarre Euroregion and the signing of an agreement in principle in July 2017, on the integration of the Navarre CCI into BIHARTEAN, followed by its ratification in 2018 show the dynamism of this cooperation.

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