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COVID-19 in the Hauts de France confines the audience of the 6th national session "Maritime issues and strategies" to the École Militaire

© IHEDN | 6e ESM au séminaire Hauts-de-France : les auditeurs attentifs aux propos du vice-amiral d’escadre Philippe Dutrieux

Listeners to the 6e The IHEDN national session on "Maritime issues and strategies" took refuge at the École Militaire on 12 and 13 March for their seminar, which was normally scheduled to take place in the Hauts-de-France region, which has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, thanks to the involvement and adaptation of key players in the region and the use of videoconferencing, the participants were able to tackle almost all the subjects on the agenda.

On Friday morning, Vice-Admiral Philippe Dutrieux, Maritime Prefect for the English Channel and the North Sea, presented the security and safety issues posed by the busiest shipping route in the world and the flow of migrants by sea in his area of responsibility. He also addressed the challenges facing a region of Europe that has been hard hit by Brexit, and those linked to spatial planning for particularly small maritime areas.

© IHEDN | 6e ESM au séminaire Hauts-de-France : les auditeurs attentifs aux propos du vice-amiral d’escadre Philippe Dutrieux
IHEDN | 6th ESM at the Hauts-de-France seminar: the audience listens attentively to the words of Vice-Admiral Philippe Dutrieux

Daniel Deschodt, Acting Chairman of the Management Board of the Grand Port Maritime de Dunkerque (GPMD), went on to talk about the challenges facing Dunkerque - and other French ports - as they face up to international competition and boost activity and the associated jobs on French soil. The GPMD, now capable of handling the world's largest ships, is a good example of the long-term policy implemented in cooperation with the other ports in the Hauts-de-France region to capture added value and develop employment. This ambition is based on a circular economy strategy and the development of digital technology, while preserving biodiversity as part of a sustainable development approach.   

The auditors then virtually headed for Calais, where they were welcomed by Véronique Deprez-Boudier, sub-prefect, surrounded by Philippe Suisse, deputy director of security for the port of Calais, Hervé Derache, interdepartmental director of the border police, Mathilde Potel, deputy central commissioner of the Calais public security district, and Laurent Decovemacker, captain, second-in-command of the Calais maritime gendarmerie company.

The round-table discussed the major challenges facing the city-port, particularly in relation to its proximity to the United Kingdom, Brexit and the strong pressure of illegal migration in the Strait of Calais. Thanks to this round-table discussion, listeners were able to discover the impressive installations designed to deter and detect any attempt at illegal intrusion. They were also able to appreciate the willingness of the French and British governments to cooperate in stemming this flow of migrants, who are particularly determined and prepared to risk their lives to cross the Channel.

Listeners watching Véronique Deprez-Boudier, sub-prefect of Calais.

On Saturday, after a busy day the day before, the session welcomed Jean-Michel Thillier, inter-regional director of customs for Hauts-de-France and national Brexit coordinator for French customs. He had travelled specially to meet the audience. They were able to discover the "smart border" concept, invented by French customs and implemented with the United Kingdom, whose anticipation has enabled France to keep up with the times and maintain the flow of goods and passengers while ensuring the customs and health formalities imposed by Brexit.

© IHEDN | 6e ESM au séminaire Hauts-de-France : Jean-Michel Thillier s’adressant aux auditeurs
IHEDN | 6th ESM at the Hauts-de-France seminar: Jean-Michel Thillier addressing the audience

The morning ended on a high note with a speech by Commissaire Général Vincent Campredon, Director of the Musée de la Marine, who showed the audience how, in the global approach adopted by the IHEDN, cultural issues relating to the sea are at the heart of maritime issues. In this context, the ongoing renovation of the Musée de la Marine will help to disseminate these issues throughout French society, in particular by raising awareness among young people of the extent to which the future of our planet depends on the seas and oceans.  

© IHEDN | 6e ESM au séminaire Hauts-de-France : le Commissaire général de la Marine Vincent Campredon en plein débat avec les auditeurs
IHEDN | 6th ESM at the Hauts-de-France seminar: Vincent Campredon, Chief of the Navy, debates with auditors

Finally, Saturday afternoon was an opportunity for listeners to get back to drafting their committee work on sovereignty in the maritime domain. Despite the legitimate disappointment of not having been able to attend the Boulogne sur Mer fish auction or visit the ports of Dunkirk and Calais, the participants were very happy to be together and, beyond the regret of leaving each other after two days gone by too quickly, are already looking forward to meeting up again at the next seminar.