AEBR was involved in three workshops at the past edition of the #EuropeanRegionsWeek, taking opportunity to discuss with stakeholders from all over Europe important topics related to cross-border cooperation. The relationship with regions at the external borders of the European Union; communication, solidarity and the involvement of young people; and innovative tools to solve legal obstacles to practices of cross-border cooperation have been the main aspects debated in 2019 – the application to participate as partner to the event in 2020 is currently open.
From 7 to 10 October 2019 the Association of the European Border Regions (AEBR) took part in the 17th edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities, the biggest annual Brussels-based event dedicated to regional policy. The 2019 edition marked an unprecedented record, gathering more than 9000 participants and with about 330 informative sessions scheduled.
The Association of the European Border Regions (AEBR) contributed to the event organizing two workshops and actively taking part in a third one arranged by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO).
The first session coordinated by AEBR – “Future role of regions on Eastern External borders of the EU” – took place on 9 October and was dedicated to the current and future perspectives of cross-border cooperation involving regions located across the EU external borders. The workshop was moderated by AEBR’s Secretary General Martín Guillermo Ramírez and the discussion focused particularly on three main aspects: the latest and most relevant developments involving regions at the external borders of the EU; Cross-Border Cooperation within the European Neighbouring Instrument (ENI CBC) and the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA-CBC) in the next programming period, highlighting in particular the implications related to the new management of ENI CBC programmes under DG REGIO and, finally, the perspective of local and regional authorities – members of AEBR – who shared their view on the future of the external cooperation.
The second workshop organised by AEBR – The EU at Hand: New Inputs from Volunteers” – was scheduled on 10 October and was moderated by Anna Cinzia Dellagiacoma and Andreas Karadakis, respectively the Project Manager and the Project Assistant of the initiative Interreg Volunteer Youth (IVY), managed by AEBR on behalf of the European Commission. Thanks to the active participation of some of the young volunteers involved in IVY, the workshop was an occasion to learn more on how they set up Citizens Engagement Activities (CEA) to inform and raise awareness about Cohesion Policy all around Europe. Furthermore, they had the chance to share with the public their personal experiences as young citizens actively involved in European Territorial Cooperation, providing hints and inspiration on new ways of thinking and communicating Europe. In addition to the live and video testimonials of the volunteers, the debate was enriched by the kind presence of Agnès Monfret, Head of the Communication Unit at DG REGIO, who illustrated to the audience the inspiring story behind the birth of IVY and the consequent start of DG REGIO’s successful cooperation with AEBR in 2017.
Beyond the workshop, the IVY volunteers accompanied AEBR’s staff all along the European Week of Regions and Cities, giving their contribution and sharing their experiences while ensuring their active presence at a temporary stand provided by the European Commission and dedicated to the IVY initiative.
Finally, AEBR had the pleasure to coordinate with DG REGIO a third workshop on 9 October, “Completing the toolbox to overcome legal obstacles in cross-border regions”, aimed at illustrating in detail the tools currently at disposal of regional and national stakeholders to solve legal and administrative obstacles that still hamper the socio – economic interactions in border regions. This was the occasion for AEBR to present the initiative b-solutions, introducing, in particular, the pilot actions “When EMS erase borders” (Working Community of the Pyrenees, ES-FR) and “CB PUMP” (EGTC GO, IT-SI) selected within the first call for proposals.
Part of the session was dedicated to the introduction of the proposed new instrument, the “Mechanism to resolve legal and administrative obstacles in a cross-border context“, also known as European Cross-Border Mechanism (ECBM), presented by the European Commission. Such a mechanism would provide the legal framework either for provisions from one side of the border to apply on the other side, or the derogation of certain national provisions, within the limited scope of a specific cross-border project,
Its added value was illustrated by AEBR, showing how the Mechanism gained particularly relevance also within the range of solutions explored through b-solutions.
To conclude, AEBR’s participation in the last edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities was a successful one. The three sessions featured the presence of many active attendees, who showed a clear interest for the initiatives managed by the Association and who positively welcomed the sparks elaborated in the course of the discussions.
The AEBR’s hope is to repeat such an achievement also in occasion of the 2020 edition and its staff is currently working on the proposals for the future workshops.