In brief

Alsace president calls for withdrawal from Grand-Est, re-establishment of region of its own

French prime minister admits he does not “feel” that “immense regions” can meet needs for “proximity” policies

Frédéric Bierry speaking before Jean Castex.
Frédéric Bierry speaking before Jean Castex. Author: S. Sutter/Collectivité européenne d\'Alsace
Alsatian President Frédéric Bierry has called for “the dismemberment of the Grand-Est region” and the re-constitution of Alsace as a region of its own, with new powers. “It is a recurring demand” in Alsace, the politician has said.

Bierry made these remarks after French Prime Minister Jean Castex, on a visit to Alsace, harshly criticised the macro-regions that were created in France in 2015, merging several pre-existing ones: “I have never been convinced of these immense regions, some of which do not correspond to any historical legitimacy and, above all, do not seem to me that they meet the growing needs of our fellow citizens for proximity public action,” Castex argued.

Castex visited Alsace for the first time after the country has regained in January 2021 a governing authority of its own, the European Collectivity of Alsace (CEA), which merges the departments of Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin. The CEA, however, remains part of the Grand-Est region, which also includes Lorraine and Champagne, with 5.5 million inhabitants.

Alsace was a region from 1956 until 2015, when —despite Alsatian opposition— it was merged into Grand-Est. Since then, there have been continuous calls to regain its independence as a region. Last year, a poll revealed that 68% of Alsatians want to secede from the Grand-Est and get again an Alsatian region of its own.

Following Bierry’s and Castex’s remarks, French Minister for Territorial Cohesion Jacqueline Gouralt assured that the French government is not considering changing the borders between the regions or breaking up Grand-Est.

Pro-autonomy Unser Land party, for its part, has called for the set-up of “a precise road map for [Alsace’s] withdrawal from the Grand-Est, and the devolution of state powers to the CEA.”