5 July 2016, Vienna: Working Group on Innovative Solutions to Cross-Border Obstacles :
The Luxembourg Presidency, with the assistance of the Mission Opérationnelle Transfrontalière (MOT), and strongly supported by the French Government, launched a Working Group on Innovative Solutions to Cross-Border Obstacles to further work on the legal tool "European Cross Border Convention". The first meeting of this Working Group was held on 5 July 2016 at the Federal Chancellery in Vienna.
The main proposal is the implementation of a new instrument to deal with specific provisions in cross-border regions. The proposed name for this instrument is "European Cross-Border Convention (ECBC)". Inspired by the Madrid Outline Convention, several bi- and multilateral agreements and the EGTC regulation, and intended to be coordinated with the Cross-Border Review implemented by DG Regio, the ECBC aspires to establish specific arrangements between involved countries in order to solve concrete cross-border legal obstacles, by agreeing on a specific regulation for any case in particular: the establishment of a cross-border facility, the connection of transport systems across borders, the implementation of a specific regulation for commuters, etc.
It is in a very early stage, and there are many Member States which are still reluctant. But Luxembourg and France are using their full strenght to explain this proposal and gain new supporters, in particular amongst the participants in the NTCCP (Network of Territorial Cohesion Contact Points), with a meeting scheduled for the following day (see brief article below) in Bratislava, and the further meeting of the Director Generals dealing with territorial issues. On the other hand, a presentation of this initiative is planned to be proposed for any of the next meetings of the experts' group organized by DG Regio in the framework of the CB Review.
In the opinion of AEBR Secretary General this initiative is well-intentioned, trying to offer an easier solution that and EGTC, a specific solution to certain CB legal problems through the development of a legal instrument which could be used by neighbouring countries to regulate cross-border gaps, bottlenecks, assymetries, differentials, absurdities, etc. However, it does not seem up to now that there will be enough support from Member States. The fact that the Commission is not involved could be another main reason for some Member States not to support it more strongly. The experts' group plans to keep on discussing and analizing until the end of 2017 and, in the meantime, it could be fine-tunned in close coordination with the results of the CB Review (and DG Regio). Otherwise, very little progress could be expected.