Thursday, September 23, 2004

Second Capital

Some Alsatian politicians got fed up that France does not contribute to the development of its "second capital", Strasbourg.

There are three cities that host major global organizations that are not themselves national capitals. Two of the three receive special attention from their national government to maintain facilities and access. Geneva is receives special funding from Switzerland that is comparable to what Z├╝rich receives; New York City is indirectly supported through the extraordinary support that the US gives to the UN.

Strasbourg, the home of the European Parliament and Court, gets nothing from Paris. The city and the surrounding communities have had to foot the bill themselves. Paris, on the other hand, get more than enough to support public transportation and facilities from the national government that the city need barely do anything. The president of the regional council, Adrian Zeller, has proposed making Strasbourg "a national cause" that will force Paris to treat it as a second capital:
We are not asking for the moon. We are realists. But the National Assembly and the senate ought to recognize that France has two capitals, one historic, the other European and emerging. ... It is a noble project to correct the fundamental inequalities between Paris and Strasbourg. (quote from L'Alsace, September 21, 2004)

The proposal is modest: it asks for 45 million Euros in special projects and new oversight, as well as the creation of a national commission that will coordinate development in Strasbourg with respect to the needs of the EU. I suspect that some local politicians hoped that they might steal more power from Brussels.


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