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16th meeting of the CoR’s Interregional Group on CBC

Under the presidency of Pavel Branda, AEBR Vice-president, Deputy Major of Rádlo Municipality and member of Euregio Neisse-Nysa-Nisa, this session of the Interregional Group dealt mostly with the three-month public consultation launched in December 2020 by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), aiming at collecting ideas and data to elaborate a Resolution on the Future of Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) until 2050, so to draw the attention to CBC within the ongoing Conference on the Future of Europe. The Resolution aims to outline concrete goals that should be implemented by 2050 to remove any obstacles to CBC while keeping CBC and cross-border life in the event of future crises.

Slaven Klobucar (CoR’s EGTCs Platform) presented the results of the consultation, where 350 respondents from all the EU Member States – to the exception of Lithuania –  took part, highlighting particularly those fields where most obstacles that still limit CBC in Europe are identified: public transport (missing links), employment and economic and trade-related policies, spatial planning, and mutual recognition of diplomas/other administrative documents. The respondents also identified diverging national legal frameworks as a major obstacle. And, in particular, the non-harmonized transposition of EU regulations in every Member State.

Beyond the removal of legal and administrative obstacles, participating stakeholders have pointed at a set of actions to help the strengthening of CBC and, more in general, to foster interactions across borders. In particular, the following are considered of primary importance: easier and more systematic access to cross-border public services, the possibility to be more frequently in contact with the language of the neighbouring country, as well as more and better coordination in the field of emergency services and the economic sector. The possibility to have access to less complicated rules and procedures in the framework of INTERREG funding, as well as a strengthened role of the CoR, are also seen as essential.

All the details on the consultation’s results are available in the dedicated report released by the COTER Commission and accessible here.

The CoR’s Resolution on the Future of Cross-Border Cooperation – based on the consultation’s results – would be presented, discussed and voted at the next CoR’s plenary session on 1 July. More than 40 amendments to the proposed text had been submitted so far.

Following the introduction of the consultation’s results during the Interregional Group meeting, the participants had the chance to exchange also on possible communication actions to foster the discussion around cross-border cooperation in the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Ian Barber, Director for Communication at the CoR showcased the Committee’s past and current efforts to promote CBC at the Conference’s online platform. In particular, the CoR is currently elaborating a strategy to collect all the inputs from the many local and regional political actors that address border issues on the platform – as a specific section on CBC is missing – and it is exploring the possibility to build a permanent dialogue with the local citizens, even beyond the Conference’s ending – an idea that has been warmly welcomed by AEBR’s President Karl-Heinz Lambertz.

Enough room was left to present to the meeting’s participants the latest developments on the current discussion about the “small project funds and people-to-people projects” in the new Interreg Regulation, as well as to exchange on the state of play of the failed European Cross-Border Mechanism (ECBM) to solve border obstacles. The current Commission’s approach to keeping it “dormant” while exploring how to revitalize it (in collaboration with the Cross-Border Alliance with AEBR, MOT, CESCI, and the CoR) was very welcomed.

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