(updated on 19 July)
The European Committee of the Regions (CdR) is strongly pushing cross-border cooperation (CBC) at the top of the EU’s policy agenda. The plenary of the CoR adopted a resolution on 1 July calling for maintaining CBC and cross-border life in the event of future crises, including various proposals to improve CBC and calling on the European Commission to follow up on already existing legislation and treaties. This resolution will be a contribution to the Conference on the Future of Europe. Here you can find the resolution in various EU languages: BG CZ DE DK EN ES FR FI GR HU IT NL PL PT RO SE
The COTER Commission of the CoR had organized a consultation in border regions earlier this year to base this resolution and here you can download/read the report of this consultation. Both the consultation and the resolution drove a High-Level Conference on 5 July, organized by the CoR and the Cross-Border Alliance.
During the debate at the CoR Plenary, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, AEBR President and Chairman of the Parliament of East Belgium, pointed at the vulnerability of Europe, and the tendency to close borders in case of crisis. CBC is an engine for EU integration and we need more instruments, structural funds, legal mechanisms, a stronger Interreg, deeper coordination of EU institutions, and wider cooperation with other organizations.
Rosa Balas (Junta de Extremadura) highlighted the key work of CBC, which was revealed further during this crisis. Extremadura is deeply committed to CBC and has asked for a “CB Workers’ Statute” to facilitate the recognition of diplomas, effective implementation of EU provisions regarding cross-border public services, and a focus on intermodality across borders.
Sonja Ledl-Rossmann (State Parliament of Tyrol) asked for a stronger focus on mountain regions. She reminded the strong CBC developed in the Alpine region and related macroregional strategies, involving cross-border mobility, energy, transport, healthcare, etc. CBC networks should have a specific programme.
Marjon de Hoon-Veelenturf (Mayor of Baarle-Nassau) acknowledged the importance of CBC. “The pandemic has an important impact on CBC, and this resolution has included most relevant aspects.”
Jobst-Hinrich Ubbelohde (Landtag Brandenburg, Secretary of State) directly asked for more financial support to regions and municipalities for CBC, avoiding the creation of tension in public budgets. Co-financing has increased in the new financial period and could be an enormous burden for some public authorities. He also asked to listen to cross-border structures such as the euroregions, in their different forms. They do most of the work on the ground on CBC and on specific issues such as Small-Projects. We can learn a lot from their experience.
Josef Frey (Landtag Baden-Württenberg) referred very strongly to the ECBM, very useful for many small border regions, but stopped by the Council. He was very sorry about that, as it would have facilitated enormously cooperation, which has become restrained.
Mirja Vehkaperä (Oulu City Council) stressed the importance of collaboration on infrastructure, to activate the transport of passengers and goods across borders, including maritime ones.
Kieran McCarthy (Cork City Council) points to investing in cross-border territories and people as the core of the European project. The benefits of the Single Market, CBC programmes such as Interreg for every border have a great added-value, and especially some specific programmes such as Peace, successfully addressed to reconciliation between communities in the island of Ireland. He also regretted the developments on the ECBM.
Pavel Branda (Deputy Mayor of Rádlo and AEBR Vice-president), referred to the deep work on CBC implemented by the CoR through opinions like the recent CoR opinion on Cross-Border Public Services, the EGTCs Platform, the works of the CBC Intergroup, consultations, events, conferences, local dialogues, and this resolution. He also stressed the importance of taking this to the Conference on the Future of Europe, the awareness raised through the CB Citizens Alliance, and all efforts made to take CBC back to the main European agenda.
More than 44 amendments were submitted, showing a strong interest by many regions to improve the text and progress with European CBC. Most of them were approved and integrated into the final text.
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