Strasbourg-Ortenau is a Franco-German eurodistrict, a cross-border administrative entity (groupement européen de coopération transfrontalière) sharing common institutions, established on 17 October 2005 and definitely functional since 4 February 2010. The district is formed by the Urban Community of Strasbourg (centred on the city of Strasbourg) and 3 other urban communities (of Rhinau, Erstein and Benfeld) on the French side of the Rhine and the Ortenau district (including Achern, Kehl, Lahr, Oberkirch and Offenburg) on the German side. The combined population of the district is 931,760 (2009/2010). It covers an area of 2,445 km².
Building on regional and Franco-German cooperation, it aims to develop bonds between citizens, associations, public administrations, educational establishments and corporations. It is also in the context of European integration, with the presence of European institutions in Strasbourg, and has been compared to a European version of Washington D.C.. In addition to the array of European and Franco-German institutions, the district includes three ports, two airports and nine universities.
The Eurodistrict's Council is composed of 48 members, with 24 each representing either the French or the German side.
The idea of a eurodistrict Strasbourg-Kehl (as it was called then) was officially launched on 22 January 2003, by then-French President Jacques Chirac and then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder during a meeting in the Élysée Palace; it was point 24 of the common declaration made on the 40th anniversary of the cooperation treaty between Germany and France. 22 January was furthermore declared "French-German day" (journée franco-allemande, deutsch-französischer Tag)
A common resolution to create the Strasbourg-Ortenau Eurodistrict was signed on 24 May 2003 in Offenburg by Fabienne Keller, the mayor of Strasbourg, Robert Grossmann, the president of the Communauté urbaine de Strasbourg, the mayors of Kehl, Offenburg, Achern, Lahr and Oberkirch as well as the President (Landrat) of the Ortenau district. The resolution's aim was to present a viable version of the project at the upcoming French-German summit on 10 June 2003.
On 30 June 2003, the French minister for European Affairs, Noëlle Lenoir, and her German colleague, Hans Martin Bury, signed the official document specifying the legal, political, economical, demographic etc. frameworks (cadres) within which the Eurodistrict was to be called into existence. The document also announced that further presentations of the project were to be made at the French-German summit in the following autumn, as well as during the crossborder flower festival on both banks of the Rhine held in Strasbourg and Kehl in the spring 2004.
Mayor of Strasbourg Roland Ries, during and after his election campaign in 2007, proposed the strengthening of the district in order to maintain the presence of the European Parliament in the city (see Location of European Union institutions) and making it more autonomous and akin to a European capital territory. However the Ortenaukreis communities have been less enthusiastic about the Eurodistrict project. In late January 2010 the German State definitely greenlighted the entity and the inaugural session of the Eurodistrict's Council took place on 4 February 2010. Roland Ries was elected as the Council's first president.
- Bienvenue sur le site de l’Eurodistrict Strasbourg-Ortenau, district official website (French)
- The official website of the Eurodistrict indicates a population of 868,014, but this does not take into account the official figures for 2008 of the Ortenaukreis, which had a population of 417,613 on 31 December 2008. 884,988 is the addition of the French 2009 census and the German 2008 census. The real actual number of inhabitants is in fact even higher, due to the steady growth of the Urban Community of Strasbourg.
- Eurodistrict stats, district official website (French)
- Le Conseil de l'Eurodistrict (French)
- DECLARATION COMMUNE FRANCO-ALLEMANDE A L'OCCASION DU 40EME ANNIVERSAIRE DU TRAITE DE L'ELYSEE (French)
- Common resolution for the creation of a Eurodistrict between Strasbourg and the Ortenau (French)
- POINTS CADRE POUR LA CREATION DE L’EURODISTRICT STRASBOURG-KEHL (French)
- Europe dominates election agenda in Strasbourg, Cafe babel
- Progrès décisifs pour l'Eurodistrict Strasbourg-Ortenau, La Gazette des communes, 28 January 2010 (French)
- Eurodistrict Strasbourg-Ortenau / Séance inaugurale du conseil, Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace, 5 February 2010 (French)