Donnerstag, 26. Oktober 2017, Badajoz/Extremadura: Sitzung der AGEG Task Force Interreg:



 
From left: Jurjen van Dijk / Michiel Scheffer, Deputy of the Province of Gelderland, Chair of the TF Interreg (Source of the photo: Jero Morales)

On Thursday the 26th of October 2017 a meeting of the Taskforce Interreg of the AEBR took place at the Siglo XXI Building, Badajoz, Extremadura.

During this meeting, following the works of the previous ones, a position paper for the AEBR on Interreg was discussed, especially focussing on how effective communication with national authorities on the future of Interreg can take place, and to what extend the AEBR taskforce can assist the members in this process.

It was noted that there are significant differences between border regions in Europe. In some regions, borders have a greater impact than in other regions. Therefore roadmaps to better cooperation vary widely. There is not a single size to tackle border regions that fits all.

In the coming year, national authorities are going to decide on a new Multiannual Financial Framework, and thereby discuss Interreg and Cohesion Policy in general. Some regions are sceptic about the level of influence they have regarding their national governments, whereas other regions already translated the AEBR position into their exchange with national government.

The discussion in general boiled down to four points:

A. - Regions should openly communicate on how the taskforce can help them in their national position. The AEBR position paper can be used as a general framework and can be extended to contribute to - and be in line with - a position of a specific region. The position paper is therefore designed as an instrument that can be used in a national context. Euregio Scheldemond (BE-NL), for instance, has already written a position paper based on this AEBR statement. Others could do the same. The Taskforce is willing to help and participate in the communication to give this a European touch.
- It is also possible to lobby in our capitals with bi-or even trinational delegations from the border region(s). The Dutch-German and Dutch-Belgian border regions will join their efforts towards ‘The Hague’ and the German group in AEBR could do the same towards ‘Berlin’. If we want changes in Interreg, we need to raise our voices and let our capitals know what is needed in the border regions. 

B. The European Commission (DG Regio) recently adopted a communication “Boosting Growth and Cohesion in EU Border Regions” in which it points out its vision on cross-border cooperation and proposes a concrete action plan. During the meeting the instrument “Border Focal Point”, was discussed and applauded as a helpful instrument that enables direct communication between regions and the European Commission. Regarding the announcement of the Commission to start pilot projects, it was made clear that AEBR should promote this instrument and it was also stressed that it is not only about some selected projects, but also about a general inventory of cross-border obstacles and possible solutions identified by stakeholders on site. The AEBR is willing to play a significant role in this process.

C. It was discussed that cross-border cooperation can be stimulated by other programs than merely Interreg. Adding a cross-border chapter to other EU-programs is by some deemed to be helpful, whereas others were pointing out that history has proven it to be wishful thinking. It was agreed upon that safeguarding Interreg is the primary objective, but - where possible and realistically implementable – adding cross-border cooperation to other (regional) programs is also relevant. 

D. The AEBR is currently well represented in the Committee of the Regions, but the level of exigence grows and it might be useful to increase our presence at political level and promote further support in the CoR for Interreg, for instance, through the Cohesion Alliance. 

-> German Version of the Position Paper
-> English Version of the Position Paper
-> French Version of the Position Paper

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