The Straits Committee, an initiative to reinforce links and collaboration with Kent’s European neighbours, celebrates its first birthday this week.
Launched in Arras, France, the aim of the committee is to support business and economic development both here and across the Channel.
KCC Cabinet Member for Economic Development Mike Whiting, who chaired the Strait Executive Committee meeting, said: “We’ve achieved a lot over the last 12 months, strengthening and creating bonds between Kent and our European neighbours’.
“It has culminated in the ‘Integrated Vision and Strategy for the Straits Committee’ that sets out short, medium and long-term objectives within economic development and fluidity of trade, climate change and clean growth, and supporting young people.
“The Straits Committee allows people, business and communities to shape an agenda for working together on issues and opportunities facing the shared border area.”
It includes representatives from KCC and their counterparts from Belgium, the Netherlands and France to discuss topics from climate change to supporting young people.
The committee’s vision is that by 2030, the Straits area will be recognised internationally as the place where the UK and continental Europe meet and thrive.
It goes on to say the Straits Committee will have:
- Contributed to the success of the area, attracting national and international investment for cross border initiatives.
- Ensured the Straits remain the gateway of choice for UK-EU trade, making full use of the available knowledge on smart logistics and smart border technologies.
- Cross-Channel travel will be a comfortable experience, and demand for travel – whether for business or leisure – will remain strong.
- support new industries, high-growth sectors, research and knowledge institutes, businesses, public authorities, and citizens will be working together in areas where the Straits has significant assets, such as clean and blue energy and economy; (new) materials, innovation, and technology; smart transport and logistics; healthcare economy and agro-food including fisheries and sea products.
- delivering on CO2 emission reduction commitments, putting the area on the path to net-zero across all sectors.
- zero-emission mobility will account for an increasing proportion of all journeys, as the roll out of new charging and fuelling infrastructure accelerates.
- initiatives targeting domestic housing will have led to a reduction in emissions and energy consumption.
- more and more young people will be participating in cross-border work experience or cultural and educational initiatives, taking advantage of the many opportunities that have been implemented in the Straits area and improving their intercultural skills.
KCC already has long standing connections with French, Belgian and Dutch local authorities.
With the new trading arrangements following transition, KCC continues to support Kent companies with exporting, through its successful Kent International Business programme.
Mr Whiting added: “Each member of the Straits Committee has set aside funds to establish a small projects scheme which will be launched at the end of March, and there will be an annual event of the Straits Committee focussing on the strategic priority for youth in October.”