Since the last update, AEBR continued collecting testimonials from border regions, to keep track of the difficulties they faced (and are facing) due to the Covid-19 outbreak and the closure of borders.
Several AEBR members and other active cross-border institutions shared with us further contributions that were also uploaded on the European Committee of Regions’ Covid-19 Exchange platform.
The contributions showcase a strong support for cross-border cooperation and vibrant activism to maintain it. Despite the sudden and often unforeseen suspension of the daily life across the borders, cross-border regions and entities engaged in cooperation reacted strongly, putting in place new measures or initiatives to inform the local citizens and support commuters and enterprises.
At the border between Germany and the Netherlands, the Ems Dollart Region set up additional pages on its website and Platform Noord360 to display the latest news from the region and to provide citizens and workers with all the most up-to-date information from both countries. Furthermore, the local Border Information Point (GIP), apart from its regular services, started to offer free-of-charge frontline consultancy with regards to the newly arose difficulties. The coordination with the other GIPs along the border turned out to be a useful way to collect information, inquires, requests that were also shared with policymakers to raise awareness on the new border obstacles.
A strong coordination with the Border Information Points (GIP) and with the scientific legal expertise of ITEM has been essential also at the DE-NL-BE border, where Euregio Meuse-Rhine positioned itself as a mediator, providing assistance to local citizens and boosting the coordination of networks involving the most relevant local stakeholders. Furthermore, due to the many uncertainties faced especially by the cross-border commuters, the Euregio has decided to set up a tri-national Cross-Border Task Force to promote the exchange of significant information among institutions of the three countries on a daily basis. One of the aims of the task force was also to grant citizens with special permits to cross the border, following the indications of the police forces. Finally, thanks to its Incident control and Crisis management network, the Euregio managed also to closely involve actors engaged in the provision of healthcare services, making possible to transfer Dutch patients to a German hospital with greater availability of intensive care facilities.
The Euroregion Spree-Neiße-Bober at the German-Polish border has also been particularly active in putting in place initiatives with the aim of raising the morale of the local population and to keep the spirit of cooperation high.
In particular, the two presidents of the cross-border structure, Czesław Fiedorowicz and Harald Altekrüger, after
having released a series of joint statements in support of cooperation, have also launched a social media campaign. Its aim was to collect pictures of representatives of other border and cross-border institutions carrying a sign with the hashtag #StrongerTogether in the two languages of the Euroregion (#GemeinsamStärker and #razemsilniejsi). The initiative was very successful not only among the members of the Euroregion as also local associations and agencies decided to participate on a voluntary basis.
At the Spanish-Portuguese border, the Galicia North Portugal Euroregion is currently working on the implementation of an action plan to boost cooperation, by making use of the complementarities between both sides of the border to reinforce the conditions of joint competitiveness. The plan will follow four priority axes that will impact the Euroregion directly: 1) innovation, digitalization and internationalization as tools for cross-border employment; 2) ecology, to face the global environmental and climatic change and a fair energetic transition; 3) responses to demographic challenges and the threats to public health; 4) a more united Euroregion for the benefit of its citizens.
The Regional Council of North Karelia in Finland has drawn up an extensive “recovery plan” in cooperation with municipalities, entrepreneurs and business organizations, to find solutions and ways to restore the vitality of the region after the current crisis. Nine are the strategic economic and social sectors around which the plan is organised: technology industry, bioeconomy, climate and energy, tourism, services, creative industries and culture, construction, primary production, transport and logistics, well-being.
The Regional Council of North Karelia ensured also additional support to local businesses, through special funding for different kind of small development projects.
Beyond AEBR’s members, other very active cross-border institutions have shared some insights from their borders, giving a more comprehensive picture of the different actions undertaken Europe-wide.
The Eurocity Chaves-Verin (ES-PT) has established a COVID-19 Cross-Border Information Point (CBIP) for the EuroCitizens and organised a series of online seminars (EurocityTalks) to involve the citizens in the discussions around cross-border cooperation matters in the post-COVID-19 scenario. Finally, a joint manifesto was signed by of all mayors of the other Eurocities at the Spanish-Portuguese border, to demand to the national governments specific measures in support of the Eurocities.
At the trilateral border area between France, Germany and Luxemburg, the cooperation between local stakeholders made it possible to transfer patients and medical material – especially from France to Germany – in a relatively smooth way, as reported the local municipality network Quattropole e.V. According to Quattropole e. V., whose contribution was essential to coordinate the exchanges among the local administrations, this was allowed by the strong feeling of trust between some municipalities. Furthermore, looking at the future, being tourism one of its main priority, the network is already planning alternative and sustainable ways of transports that could help preventing further waves of infections. In particular, a brochure to incite citizens to make more use of bicycle within the cities of Luxembourg, Metz, Saarbrücken and Trier has been published on its website.
Finally, at the French-German border, the work of EGTCs has been particularly important during the past months. In the previous number we already reported about Eurodistrict Pamina, and now we would like to highlight the work of two more EGTCs. The Eurodistrict SaarMoselle has been also particularly committed to coordinate the transfer of French patients affected from Covid-19 and residing in the territory of Moselle to the closest hospitals in Saarland and to make the secondment of three German doctors to the Forbach Hospital in France to help the local staff dealing with the emergency. Furthermore, it has applied for additional Interreg funds to implement the project GeKo SaarMoselle which aims at fostering the cooperation in the health sector. This could surely provide a new framework for addressing the topic of cross-border crisis management in the health sector.
The EGTC Eurodistrict Strasbourg-Ortenau has positioned itself politically through a resolution “For a closer cross-border cooperation” . With respect to the citizens, the Eurodistrict focused on the cross-border transmission of information by posting continuously updated summaries (in French and German) on its website and social networks, to inform about the official measures, regulations and available documents from both countries.Back to overview