The interinsular connections in the Tyrrhenian Sea are limited as well as being governed by meteorological and seasonal factors. During bad weather conditions, for example, not all ships are able to go out to sea. Furthermore, there are no air connections between the islands that can ensure the transport of goods or people. These conditions adversely affect the development and sustainment of both economic and cultural relations. Cultural relations are in fact particularly important for the territories as they share a cultural identity (specifically Sardinia and Corsica).
Therefore, the GEstion Européenne Conjointe des Connexions/Transports Transfrontaliers pour les Îles (GEECCTT-Iles) project aims to optimize and enhance the relations between these islands through the following steps:
- Create a European Group of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) to manage cross-border transport services.
- Develop innovative services for intra-island mobility, encompassing both sea and air transport.
- Improve integration through multimodal transport systems as part of the Trans-European Transport Network policy.
The idea of creating an EGTC to manage cross-border transport connection has been already experienced in other cross-border contexts. Transport is frequently addressed by EGTCs with different perspectives and objectives. Examples cover territorial levels from urban (e.g. EGTC GO) to transnational connections (e.g. CETC-EGTC). However, the use of this tool to foster coordination among and between transport authorities managing interinsular connections is particularly innovative, since it specifically focuses on structuring a well-defined economic basin between Corsica, Sardinia and Elba (and including islands) with the aim of building a sufficiently significant entity, well integrated with the main continental flows, to avoid its marginalization.
The partnership is composed of eight bodies with competences in the field of maritime connections. On the Italian side, the partners are the two regional administrations of Sardinia and Liguria and two port authorities (Olbia, Sardinia and Livorno, Tuscany), while the French organisations consist of the regional office for transport of Corsica and three chambers of commerce (Haute-Corse, Corse-du-Sud and Var).
Project area consists of the connections between the most important ports (Genova, Livorno, Olbia and Tolone) in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The project is financed by the Interreg Italy-France maritime programme in the 2014-2020 period. The total ERDF funding amounts to €1,697,875 (overall project budget is €1,997,500). The implementation period was between February 2017 and January 2019.
The most significant result of the project is the establishment of the EGTC, of which aims to facilitate cooperation by:
- Improving maritime connections between the islands;
- Implementing sustainable multimodal transport options in the western Mediterranean;
- Increase the connection nodes between secondary and tertiary islands to create their own European territorial community.
Furthermore, the numerous studies carried out to assess the regulatory, economic and logistical feasibility of the project filled an important information gap concerning maritime connections in the area. As the region includes numerous protected areas that require specific protection standards, these studies were particularly important and have facilitated the construction of two connection lines, Bonifacio-Santa Teresa and Propriano-Porto Torres., both fully operating throughout the year with increased number of departures during summer months.
The establishment of an EGTC represents a way to ensure the durability of the project’s outputs. The cross-border strategy will continue through the EGTC’s future activities in the region, which will be financed through its members, as well as being supplemented by contributions from European funds, subsides and other forms of public support when appropriate and necessary.
Strategies for project replicability in other contexts have been already put in place, particularly with regards to the Balearic Islands. The project lead partner has already established exchanges with the responsible of the port and airport infrastructures of the Balearic Islands on the importance of establishing common strategies and solutions, to promote the green transition and economic diversification of these islands, preventing them from being merely seasonal touristic destinations.
More information: http://interreg-maritime.eu/web/geecctt-iles/progetto