The Committee for European Affairs and Developments Policy of the Parliament of the German state Brandenburg organized on 18 February an expert talk on “Cross-border Cooperation” and invited the three Euroregions along its border with Poland (Pomerania, Pro Europa Viadrina and Spree-Neiße-Bober) and AEBR to explain their work, expectations and concerns to the MPs. The session was moderated by Christian Görke, Chairman of the Committee.
This talk is a result of the participation of the state of Brandenburg in the initiative Input for political debates in regional parliaments, promoted by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE), to strengthen their involvement in the EU decision-making process. This is also aimed to nourish contents for the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Armand Adamczyk, deputy director of the Euroregion Pro Europa Viadrina, Andrea Gronwald, director of the Euroregion Pomerania, and Carsten Jacob, director of the Euroregion Spree-Neiße-Bober, presented the work of the euroregions along the German-Polish border. They showcased projects, explained the objectives of their cooperation partnerships and listed priorities for the joint development of the cross-border area, stressing the importance of networks of local actors across the border. Mr Adamczyk, Ms Gronwald and Mr Jacob all emphasised the role of their euroregions to create opportunities for the citizens of Brandenburg and the neighbouring regions in Poland to meet and collaborate. Thanks to the projects developed in these contexts, citizens can access shared services, stakeholders can work together to enhance the development of the rural area, and local youth can grow closer, paving the way to more cooperation in the future.
Martin Guillermo-Ramírez, AEBR Secretary General, informed the MPs about the current concerns, needs and aims of the actors of cross-border cooperation. In supporting cross-border cooperation, AEBR demands more funding for territorial collaboration, a stronger involvement of local and regional authorities and cross-border structures in the management of cross-border programmes, a better understanding of the potential of small-project funds and the inclusion of cross-border cooperation in the Conference on the Future of Europe.
AEBR’s Secretary General praised the role played by euroregions to promote cross-border cooperation, pioneers of European Integration, and urged for support of their work through the adoption of policies that allow for more collaboration beyond national borders. “The EU makes continuous progress with new proposals, like the Commission’s European Cross-Border Mechanisms”, stated Mr Guillermo-Ramírez, adding that this proposal has not been adopted yet by the Council, showing how important it is to build more trust between the Member States. Trust, multi-level collaboration and political will are key elements to succeed in cooperating with the neighbours, as shown by the initiative b-solutions, emphasised Mr Guillermo-Ramírez – and are needed to win the challenges that Europe is facing.
The Parliament of Brandenburg also invited Isolde Ries, member of the CoR representing the German state of Saarland. Ms Ries confirmed that political support to “border-friendship” is essential and must be nursed to achieve successful cross-border cooperation. She explained the deep cooperation developed by Saarland with the neighbouring French authorities in many fields, and how difficult is to understand the closing of borders, even during emergencies. In her border, some 250,000 people cross the border regularly for various reasons, including a strong group of cross-border workers, and this raises questions regarding double-taxation, pensions, etc. A pandemic plan has been established with the French region Grand-Est, including an agreement on COVID-patients.
Katrin Lange, Regional Minister of Finances and Europe at the Regional Government of Brandenburg was also invited to intervene and made reference to various cross-border issues and the new regulation for territorial cooperation.
In the questions and answer section, Brandenburg MPs raised various issues and explained some specific experiences. The representatives of the Euroregions also had the chance to explain more in detail some specific difficulties for cross-border citizens in times of pandemic. They elaborated in advance a joint paper, also with Euroregion Neiße-Nisa-Nysa (DE/PL/CZ) and supported by AEBR on Cross-border cooperation and border regions, challenges and expectations, the impact of the pandemic and the EU assistance, and inviting to a deeper exchange.
Back to overview