7 July 2016, Potsdam: Meeting of Euroregion Spree-Neiße-Bober with Stefan Ludwig, Minister for Justice, Europe and Consumers' Protection at the Government of the Land Brandenburg:
A delegation of Euroregion Spree-Neiße-Bober, member of the AEBR, chaired by Landrat Harald Altekrüger met last 7 July in Potsdam with Minister Ludwig and team in order to discuss several issues of mutual interest. The AEBR Secretary General was also invited to take part in this exchange to deal, in particular, with the special relationship with the Russian border region of Kursk, also AEBR member, and the need to flexibilize the management of funds for people-to-people (P2P) projects in many euroregions.
Minister Ludwig expressed his support to the strong relationship established between Kursk and Spree-Neiße, showing a cooperation will between these two border regions within and outside the EU, which contains a very important continental message of collaboration. During the last two years, several exchange visits and a number of initiatives in the fields of post-graduate students, healthcare, trade, etc. have been developed between both regions, following an initiative promoted by Dieter Friese, AEBR Vice-President, after the AEBR General Assembly and Annual Conference celebrated in Kursk in 2011. Despite of the complicated relationship between the EU and the Russian Federation in the last years, this cooperation has grown and it is expected to produce very fruitful results in the short and medium term. It is important to highlight that despite of "distant" relationship at higher political levels, a closer contact can be developped at local and regional ones.
Then, the P2P issue was also discussed with Minister Ludwig and his team dealing with Interreg and other EU programmes. The management of P2P is crucial for some euroregions to establish direct links between citizens across national boundaries. This is particularly the case for many German and Austrian cooperation programmes with their neighbours in Poland and the Czech Republic, and the administration of this programmes is the base of the functional operation of the Euroregion. So, there is a need to fix an appropriate percentage as management costs, or establish enough flexibility for these euroregions to work correctly. This has recently been discussed with the Director General of DG Regio, and now with the authorities in Brandenburg, but it is also expected to be discussed with other authorities in the coming months. On the other hand, on initiative of the AEBR Task Force Interreg, launched in Cottbus last 10th June, a survey will be done among the AEBR members to check how these P2P are implemented in the current programming period, which difficulties are faced, and possible solutions.