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AEBR General Assembly 2019

On occasion of the launch of the Czech-German Culture days, the Euroregion Elbe-Labe has hosted AEBR’s annual events in Dresden from 23 to 25 October. AEBR General Assembly 2019 took place on Thursday 24 October at the City Hall of Dresden (Saxony, Germany), gathering almost 150 representatives from European border and cross-border regions.

The delegates were welcomed by Mr Dirk Hilbert, Lord Mayor of Dresden and long-lasting member of AEBR Executive Committee, and Mr Oliver Paasch, Minister-President of the German-speaking Community of Belgium and President of AEBR, who dedicated the very first minutes to welcome the new members of the association in 2019: Euroregion Krušnohoří, Czech side of Euroregion Erzgebirge (CZ-DE); the Chamber of Commerce of Chios (GR), the Chamber of Commerce of Kursk (RU); the Regional Office for Cross-border Cooperation Romania – Ukraine (BRCT Suceava) and Arad County Council (RO).

Mr Paasch, after having shown full support to AEBR since his election in Badajoz in October 2019, having represented border regions and campaigned for them to continue exchange and work together within the platform offered by AEBR for many years, resigned as President of AEBR due to the difficulties to match his agenda as Minister-President of East Belgium and AEBR President. He explained that AEBR deserves a more dedicated President, with an agenda able to face the challenges for European border and cross-border regions in the coming years. It has been therefore agreed to accept his resignation and to nominate current First Vice-President Ms Ann-Sofi Backgren as the new President of AEBR. She has accepted to take over the position, and AEBR has a woman as President for the first time, someone of whom the General Assembly is very proud.

The General Assembly approved the Annual Accounts 2018, a Supplementary Budget for 2019 and AEBR Budget for 2020. It also made some decisions on organisational issues, prospects and thematic work.

The General Assembly continued discussing relevant issues for European border and cross-border regions: a review of AEBR’s Charter of Border and Cross-Border Regions; an update on the effects of the European Commission’s Communication from 20 September 2017 addressing border regions and the latest initiatives of interest by the European Committee of the Regions, the European Parliament and the Commission. The future of Cohesion Policy, and particularly of Territorial Cohesion, was one of the central topics during the Assembly: AEBR’s Secretary General Mr Martín Guillermo Ramírez updated AEBR members on the Cohesion Alliance, on-going negotiations on the EU Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, the regulation proposals and the European Cross-Border Mechanism (ECBM), including an overview of latest positions at the Council and within the Member States, and the need to address Member States to show them the interest for the whole EU territory of a deeper European Territorial Cooperation with renewed instruments: an extended Interreg, more efficient EGTCs, a new ECBM, cross-border it is, multi-fund possibilities, a more flexible approach to Small Project Funds and People-To-People Projects.

Mr Guillermo Ramírez took occasion to highlight other topics which are on AEBR’s table: new Neighbourhood Policy, cross border labour market, migration, border control, adaptation to climate change, renewal of the European Territorial Agenda, Brexit, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), innovation and transports.

The meeting also gave the opportunity to update members on the developments of AEBR main projects, in particular: Interreg Volunteer Youth (IVY), b-solutions, ESPON CPS (Cross-border Public Services), ESPON CB TIA (Cross-Broder Territorial Impact Assessment), SECCo2 (Youth for cross-border partnership and cohesion of EUSDR and EUAIR); InterVentures (Interreg Europe project on the internationalisation of SMEs across borders), Peripheral Access, and other.

The work of AEBR Task Forces and Scientific Committee was also explained as well as the welcome to new members of AEBR Executive Committee, a specific mention to those leaving after many years of work in AEBR, and a moment of silence for those leaving in the last year, in particular Mr Alkis Papademetriou, Euroregion Nestos-Mesta (GR-BG), active AEBR member since 1992, who passed away last summer.

Finally, next events of AEBR were announced: next meetings of AEBR Executive Committee will take place at the end of February 2020 in Regio Sonderjylland-Schleswig (DE-DK), and in June in Karlsruhe, hosted EGTC Eurodistrict PAMINA (DE/FR). AEBR’s General Assembly 2020 will be hosted by the German-speaking Community of Belgium in Eupen, and it will be co-organized with the Greater Region and Euregio Meuse-Rhine (BE-DE-NL).

AEBR will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2021, and various events are planned to commemorate half a century of CBC promotion. More information in the next issues of AEBR Newsletter.

Ann-Sofi Backgren, AEBR New President










Ann-Sofi Backgren is member of the Regional Council of Ostrobotnia (Finland) and is very active in various local, regional and national associations. She has also been very active in the promotion of CBC between Finland and Sweden across Kvarken for many years and is a specialist in rural policies and adults education. He has been a member of AEBR Executive Committee for more than twenty years and has taken part as a leader or partner in many European projects.

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