Brussels, 28 January 2015: Meeting of the AEBR Advisory Committee :

Source: Dr. Reinhold Kolck

Christian Gsodam, CoR, and Jens Gabbe, Chair of the Advisory Committee, welcomed five longstanding members as well as Dirk Ahner, former Director General of DG REGIO and Gerhard Stahl, former CoR Secretary General. AEBR President Karl-Heinz Lambertz also joined the meeting for some hours.

The meeting lasted for approx. six hours and was filled with intensive discussions and recommendations for the AEBR. A small intergroup of border regions within the CoR should be formed to monitor all opinions and to take care that cross-border cooperation is taken into account. Furthermore, the European Parliament should be requested to nominate again a “Special Emissary for Border Issues”.

The focus was clearly set on the future of Cohesion Policy and Territorial Cohesion as well as the role of border regions and cross-border cooperation after 2020. The Advisory Committee adopted a draft AEBR position paper in this regard and recommended to become active at EU Commission, EU Parliament and CoR level, as the course for the future would be set already now. Alfonso Alcolea Martínez reported about a study of the CoR on this topic, to which the AEBR should contribute actively.

The participants also expressed their concerns about the tendency of a growing centralisation of EU programmes, although it has turned out that, especially in the field of cross-border cooperation, the regional/local level usually achieve the best results. It was pointed out, however, that in some new Member States, receiving a lot of EU funds, the capacities at this level have to be strengthened, so that they could assume responsibility in the EU programmes. The Advisory Committee adopted a proposal for that purpose, which foresees a scouting and training concept. This concept will be discussed with the EU Commission and EU Parliament.

Project proposals in the field of ESPON, on cross-border labour market, innovation and research met with approval as well. Additionally, the proposal of the future Luxembourgian EU Council Presidency regarding a further development of EGTC was supported.

With regard to the further development of AEBR and in order to attract new members, the Advisory Committee recommended to form a subsidiary foundation under the label “European Cross Border Academy (ECBA)”. All services of AEBR, both internal (for members) as well as external (Policy, EU, etc.) could be consolidated under the umbrella of this foundation. As examples, the following were mentioned: Cross Border Award ‘Sail of Papenburg’, scientific studies, the planned new award in the scope of the ‘Young Forum’, a quality management in form of a scout or peer system etc. Advantages are seen in lobbying, acquisition of finances/procurement of third-party funding, marketing and, not least, the targeted structuring and concentration of all AEBR services.

In cooperation with the CoR, AEBR will organise an event on EGTC in the year 2015. The AEBR General Assembly and Annual Conference, taking place in November 2015 in Brussels, will tackle "The Future of Cross-Border Cooperation in Europe". It is planned to deal with this topic in general, and not only in the light of EU programmes. The AEBR plans to organise this event as a joint conference with EU Commission, CoR and Council of Europe.

<< back