Bernard Soulage is the Vice President of the Rhône-Alpes region and its representative for Europe and external relations. He has been a member of the Committee of the Regions since 2004 and is also a member of the Executive Bureau of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), as well as the spokesman for their Forum of Regions.
In 2005, a statement of intent for cooperation was signed between the Rhône-Alpes region and the state of Paraná in southern Brazil. The exchanges were strengthened by the creation of an ERAI office (Entreprise Rhône-Alpes International, the international economic development agency) in Curitiba in 2007, as well as the "Year of France in Brazil" in 2009 and the 3rd Meeting for Franco-Brazilian Decentralized Cooperation, held in Lyon in December 2009. The two local authorities signed a new agreement on 28th February 2012 in Foz d'Iguaçu, in order to adapt this cooperation to the current global challenges they face.
The Rhône-Alpes region also signed agreements with two Argentinian provinces in 2011. The agreement with the autonomous province of Buenos Aires facilitated exchanges on economic development, tourism, higher education and research, education and training. Cooperation with Mendoza was extended in the sectors of agriculture, agri-food and rural development, national parks, rural tourism, environment, higher education and research. In autumn 2012, two agreements for collaboration were signed between ERAI and the provinces of Mendoza and Córdoba, to develop economic cooperation between the Rhône-Alpes region and its Argentinian partners. The objective of the agreement is to facilitate the establishment of companies from the Rhône-Alpes region within Argentina and strengthen exchanges with automotive and mechanical sectors.
Read the full interview on the Observatory of Decentralized Cooperation France - South America website