The 11th European Week of Regions and Cities, the OPEN DAYS, took place in Brussels from 7 to 10 October 2013.:


Several workshops were of particular interest to the border and cross-border regions in Europe. AEBR Secretary General Martín Guillermo Ramírez participated in the following Workshops and meetings: 


12:30-14:00 ROUND TABLE - “The EGTC without borders” in the New Territorial cooperation.


The regions of Carinthia (AT), Istria (HR), Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and Veneto organized this high level round table with Mr. Peter Kaiser, the President of the Austrian State of Carinthia; Mr. Valter Flego, President of the region of Istria; Mr. Franco Iacop, President of the Regional Council of the Autonomous Region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia; Mr. Stefano Beltrame, Diplomatic Counsellor of the President of the Veneto Region; Mr. Herwig Seiser, Member of the Carinthian Regional Assembly; Mr. Oriano Otocan, Head of International Department of Istria and Chairman of ALDA (the Association of Local Democracy Agencies); Ms Fausta Corda, representing DG Region; and Mr. Alfonso Alcolea, representing the CoR. Mr. Martín Guillermo Ramírez chaired and moderated this round table. The President of Veneto Region apologized because he had to attend the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the disaster of the Vajont Dam.


Main topics addressed were the EU funding opportunities in the area after the accession of Croatia to the EU, the Alpine-Adriatic macro-regional strategy and the priorities for the participating regions within the next programming period: transport, energy, health, tourism, education, technology, science, innovation and culture. The participants also reminded that this part of Europe was taken over by different empires along history, but it was really divided by borders only during the last century. Therefore, the current strengthening of CBC means “back to normality”.


With the creation of this EGTC, there are already 39 of these structures already registered, and another 3 waiting for registration. With the proposed modification of the EGTC regulation, the approval will be easier, staff issues and other difficulties will be simplified, and their scope could be enlarged either in terms of participants or the topics to address.


President Kaiser closed the round table summarizing main points under debate, and stressed the manifold fields in which these regions are cooperating. He also highlighted the strategic geographical situation of the Alpine-Adriatic area in the heart of Europe, and the possibilities of using different EU instruments such as the EGTCs, the Operational Programmes for Territorial Cooperation, but also initiatives like the Open Days to put together politicians, experts and practitioners from all over Europe.




14:30-17:00 OPEN DAYS WORKSHOP 08B07 – Overcoming the Deep Divide: International Experience in Promoting Integration and Socio-Economic Development within Cities and across Borders 


Representatives from the EU, the Russian Federation, Brazil, Peru and Colombia discussed policy approaches to promote socio-economic development in difficult and quite different political situations in urban areas and cross-border regions. They also dealt with the human and physical consequences of deeply-divided cities and how best to promote new opportunities by building intercommunity confidence and effective CBC and the relevance of international and European experiences to overcome potential obstacles. It was also foreseen the participation of Mr. Shlomo Hasson, who is developing a very interesting initiative to promote integration of the different communities living in the city of Jerusalem. Due to some logistic problems, Ms Hasson could not attend. So, the AEBR Secretary General briefly intervened to explain the basics of this initiative. You can download Mr Shlomo’s and Mr Paul McErlean’s (Northern Ireland) presentations in:




11:15-13:00 OPEN DAYS WORKSHOP 09B07 - The European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation: Cross-border players in the Single Market


In line with the action on ’The EGTC – beyond regional policy’, this CoR workshop of the EGTC Platform intended to explore the implications and possibilities of EGTCs related to the Single Market, looking forward to 2020. These groupings are entities with their own legal personalities that operate simultaneously in two or more Member States, on behalf of the regional and local authorities that compose them. EGTCs bring to the agenda elements like public procurement, cross-border employment, services of general interest, financial markets, administrative services and many other aspects, helping to create a better environment for business, workers and students. The workshop was followed by a networking session.

Via the following link: you an download the




Under the chairmanship of Mr. Herwig Van Staa (President of the Regional Parliament of the Region Tirol), other speakers in this workshop were Ms Margarida Rodrigues (EGTC ZASNET), Mr. José Luis Pascual Criado (EGTC Duero-Douro). Mr. Emmanuel Vallens (DG Single Market), Mr. José Antonio Ruiz de Casas (DG Regio), and the Secretary General of the AEBR.


From this link on (recommended photo for this workshop), you will find 14 more photos of this workshop:


14:30-17:00 OPEN DAYS WORKSHOP 09B12: Maritime and fluvial borders: sharing regional experiences

This workshop, organised by EURORREGIÓN Alentejo Algarve Andalucía (EuroAAA), was chaired by Martín Guillermo Ramírez, AEBR Secretary General.


Rivers and seas, historically natural borders in Europe, have become core elements of cross-border cooperation. This is due to the fact that the European Union gives much importance to the elimination of its internal borders and to the reinforcement of the cooperation in its external borders in order to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market and the security and stability in all the European territory. This workshop aimed to share different European cross-border experiences around rivers and seas, through the exchange of good practises. Participants travelled through the construction of infrastructures and the strengthening of the tourism sector in the Guadiana River by the hand of the Euroregion Alentejo Algarve Andalucía; they discovered the activities of cross-border sustainable environmental education developed by the Bavarian forest Euroregion along the Austro-Bavarian border in the Danube valley; and they learned how the Euroregion Meuse-Rhin has achieved to build governance system for water management and climate change. At the end, participants finnished with the actions implemented for strengthening the Mediterranean Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve between Spain and Morocco. Four main contributions followed by the exchange of 6 best practises and, finally a debate in which the audience offered the opportunity to take questions and comments. 

Via the link

you will find the following presentations that were given during this workshop:

-          María Sol Calzado García, Secretaria General de Acción Exterior, Consejería de la Presidencia Junta de Andalucía: ANDALBAGUA Territorio y Navegabilidad en el Bajo Guadiana (presentation and video) 

-          Alfred Evers, Task Force Water Governance in border regions: Satellite solutions to enhance cross border cooperation

-          Frank Heijens, Waterschap Roer an Overmaas: Flood modelling & mapping in Eastern Europe:  EU and non EU countries

-          David Jorge Marcarenhas do Santos: EURORREGION Alentejo-Algarve-Andaluzia: The guadiana river as core of cooperation

-          Fernando Molina: Las dos orillas: proyectos europeos para la consolidación de la biosfera intercontinental del Mediterráneo entre España y Marruecos

-          José Simao: Information management in port intermodality

-          Andreas Sperling: Transboundary sustainable environmental education in the Danube valley

-          Gijsbert Tweehysen:  Sharing regional experiences on river litter


From this link on, there are 30 photos of the event:





11:15-13:00h OPEN DAYS WORKSHOP 10B02 - EGTC: approaching smart solutions?

This workshop, chaired by AEBR Secretary General Martín Guillermo Ramírez, was organised by Veneto Region. It took place in the Committee of the Regions, Brussels, and addressed the question how existing experiences in Europe can confirm that the EGTC is not just a new level in multilevel-governance, but also a genuinely useful operative tool for dealing with cross-border problems. After an introduction by Mr Stefano Beltrame (Veneto Region), three EGTCs presented some examples of networking across borders differentiating between regional and urban perspectives: the Euro-metropole Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai, the EGTC Galicia-Norte de Portugal, the EGTC GO between Gorizia (IT) and Nova Gorica (SI). They highlighted the opportunities opened by the legal instrument EGTC and presented some particular cases in their cross-border regions. Furthermore, the trans-regional point of view was also discussed. The first session focused on an exchange of experiences between EGTCs.

In the second session, participants discussed the key areas where territorial cooperation could be more effective and where cooperation is more critical.

In conclusion Ms. Debora Serracchiani, new President of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region and Mr. Herwig Seiser, Klubobmann at the Carinthian Parliament briefly took the floor. President Serrachiani emphasised the importance of cross-border labour market, the participation of local and regional authorities in decision-making processes, and the need to collaborate between different macroregional strategies, particularly in areas where there could be some overlapping. Mr Seiser stressed the need to keep small structures and avoid duplications by finding the specificities of every cross-border structure.

At the end there was a very interesting debate with the public regarding the need to create trust amongst partners, the simplification of procedures while keeping the necessary control of public funding, and the concerns that LRAs are not sufficiently involved in all the processes of territorial cooperation (from decision-making to implementation).


Via the link

The following presentations are available for download:

-          Juan José Lirón Lago: The experience of the Galicia - Norte Portugal EGTC

-          Sandra Sodini: EGTC Go

-          Stef Vande Meulebroucke: 360 degrees of opportunities


Here are some photos offered online by the CoR: This link goes directly to the new FVG’s President (recommended photo) for this workshop:

From here forward, there are 14 more photos of this workshop.

During this week, the AEBR also had the chance to keep some other parallel meetings:


  • With representatives of a Croatian Region (Regional Development Agency of Dubrovnik-Neretva County) and the West Herzegovina Region.
  • With DG Connect, to know more about the initiatives on e-Government, very much related to the interest of border and cross-border regions in the interoperability of data and the overcoming of related to legislation, management of official documents (particularly IDs), e-signature, e-procurement
  • With Platforma, in order to analyse recent contacts with EU institutions to clarify and deepen the role of Platforma in the provision of services related to decentralized cooperation. 

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