Report about the AEBR Annual Conference 2010:

held on 22 October 2010 at The Fairways Hotel, Dundalk/East Border Region (Republic of Ireland)

 

(FRENCH/GERMAN available for download at the end of this report!)

Around 250 delegates attended the AEBR General Assembly and Annual Conference 2010, which took place on invitation of East Border Region (Republic of Ireland/Northern Ireland) from 21 to 23 October 2010 in at The Fairways Hotel in Dundalk.


Day 1 – Thursday, 21 October 2010

The AEBR Executive Committee meeting and the AEBR General Assembly (you can find separate reports on the AEBR website) were followed by the “The Case of the Host” session. This year, the theme was “EAST BORDER REGION: CBC – A Key to Sustainable Development”.

Chaired by Councillor John V. Farrelly, Chairman of East Border Region, the speakers discussed about developments in the cross-border development activities in Ireland/Northern Ireland.

Pat Colgan, Chief Executive of the Special European Union Programmes Body, presented the Contribution of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Interreg Programme to Cross-Border Development.

Tom McCall, Chief Executive Newry and Mourne District Council, and Michael Curran, Director of Services Louth County Council spoke about the unique cross-border partnership between Newry (N.I.) and Dundalk (R.O.I.).

The Unique Contribution of the Local Authority Led Cross Border Partnerships to Cross Border Development was presented by Pamela Arthurs, Chief Executive of East Border Region.

Two AEBR member regions took the chance to present best practice examples of their regions in the field of CB Tourism.

Herbert Unnasch

Herbert Unnasch (SPEECH), Director of the destination management of Euregio Bayerischer Wald – Böhmerwald (DE/AT/CZ), spoke about the Tourism Destination Management Bayerischer Wald – Böhmerwald (Bavaria – Czech Republic). This project aims at aligning quality and quantity of touristical offers to cross-border demands. Cross-border tourism cooperation needs intensive cooperation with regard to marketing, improved tourism infrastructures as well as better quality in terms of choice and services.

Jan Oostenbrink, EUREGIO (DE/NL)

Jan Oostenbrink (PRESENTATION), EUREGIO (DE/NL), presented the Cross-Border Tourism Marketing activities in the EUREGIO, which resulted in increased overnight stays (123 %) in the Münsterland area (German part of the EUREGIO) between 2002 - 2009 .

Andy Pollak, Director of the Centre for Cross Border Studies, concluded the meeting with a presentation of “A Research Centre for North/South Co-operation in Ireland”.

A series of workshops were also held on a wide-range of issues including cross-border approaches to health, border languages, and external borders.

Workshop “External Borders”,

chaired by Johannes Moisio,

Regional Council of South Karelia

Workshop “CB Health”,

chaired by Dr. Eric Jakob,

Regio Basiliensis

Workshop “Border Languages”,

chaired by Ruud Halink,

Talenacademie Nederland

1st line from left: Cllr John Farrelly, Chairman of East Border Region; Sammy Wilson MP, MLA, Finance Minister Northern Ireland; Cllr Mick Murphy, Mayor of Newry and Mourne; 2nd line from left: Pat Colgan, Chairman of SEUPB; Pamela Arthurs, CEO East Border Region; Ald Arnold Hatch, Vice-President of Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA); Martín Guillermo Ramírez, Secretary General of AEBR

Following the first day of the conference, a reception was held in Newry Town Hall, at which Northern Ireland Finance Minister Sammy Wilson MP, MLA, addressed the delegates and acknowledged the wide-ranging benefits that greater levels of cross-border working have had on the region.

Speakers of the opening session (from left): Pat Colgan, Chief Executive Special European Union Programmes Body; Councillor John V. Farrelly, Chairman of East Border Region; Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, European Commission; Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of AEBR, Minister President of the German-speaking Community of Belgium (BE); Günther Krug, Vice-President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Council of Europe

Day 2 – Friday, 22 October 2010


Official opening of the AEBR Annual Conference 2010 at 09.00h. Welcome addresses were given by:

  • Councillor John Farrelly, Chairman of East Border Region
  • Pat Colgan, Chief Executive Special European Union Programmes Body
  • Günther Krug, Vice-President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Council of Europe 
  • Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, European Commission  
  • Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of AEBR, Minister President of the German-speaking Community of Belgium (BE)

In his welcome address, Councillor John V. Farrelly, Chairman of the East Border Region, said: “As Chairman of East Border Region I am thrilled to be hosting the 2010 AEBR Conference. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase our region to our European neighbours. We will endeavour to ensure that our visitors receive a positive image of our region thus insuring increased investment through return visitor numbers.”

Günther Krug, Vice-President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Council of Europe (SPEECH), stated: “…I want to thank the organisers of the conference for this excellent and timely initiative. Against the background of European integration, the contribution of trans-border cooperation at inter-municipal and inter-regional level, is taking on a growing importance today, and it is high on the political agenda of the Congress of the Council of Europe. … AEBR, sharing the same values as the Congress, has already done tremendous work in helping to advance the process of targeted co-operation initiatives between regions with very different cultures, administrative traditions and legal practices. It is common political will, however, which is vital in making real progress for the benefit of the citizens.”

Commissioner Johannes Hahn addressing the delegates of the AEBR Annual Conference 2010

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for Regional Policy, stated in his speech: “The theme of today's conference "territorial cohesion in a post crisis scenario" is both opportune and challenging. ….. Europe's regions and cities will be key players in the Europe 2020 strategy. …European Integration does not just happen. It needs active engagement at all administrative levels and from all stakeholders. In that sense Territorial Cooperation provides the appropriate framework not only to promote European integration but to make European added value visible to the citizen. …European Territorial Co-operation needs to be more firmly embedded in strategic frameworks at all levels, be they European, national or regional.”

With regard to the AEBR, he confirmed: “The Association of European Border Regions is a major contributor of ideas for the improvement of Cohesion Policy and in particular of Territorial Cooperation. Thanks to your longstanding experience in cross-border cooperation and your proactive engagement, you are an indispensable partner for us.”  His full speech is available for download.

AEBR President Karl-Heinz Lambertz

Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the AEBR, said: “Border regions are particularly affected by the economic crisis. In these difficult times, overcoming disparities between regions through increased territorial cohesion in crucial. Cross-border co-operation contributes significantly to achieving this goal. The AEBR conference stressed the need to further strengthen cohesion policy and especially cross-border cooperation from 2014 onwards.”

Award Ceremony at Canal Court Hotel, from left: Pamela Arthurs, Menelaos Hatziapostolidis, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, Reinhold Kolck, Bent Larsen

Sail of Papenburg 2010

After the opening session, the winning project of the AEBR Award “Sail of Papenburg” 2010 was presented by Dr. Reinhold Kolck, Chairman of the Jury and Vice-Chairman of the AEBR Advisory Committee. Winner of the Sail of Papenburg 2010 is Euroregion Nestos-Mesta with the project “Target: Work”. A special award for outstanding achievements was handed over to the Öresund Committee. A more detailed report on the award 2010 is available here.

PLENARY SESSION I: POLITICAL ROUND TABLE “NEW CHALLENGES FOR CBC IN A POST CRISIS SCENARIO”

Chaired by Ann-Sofi Backgren, 1st Vice-President of AEBR, Member of the Board of the Regional Council of Ostrobothnia (FI). The panellists offered their views on challenges for CBC in a post-crisis scenario.  

Colin Wolfe, DG REGIO, Head of Unit REGIO E1, European Commission, delivering the keynote speech, said: “Territorial Cooperation has proven to be a key instrument of regional policy at EU level allowing for a more strategic approach and a higher level of coherence. ….. I encourage AEBR to mobilise the regions to actively participate in the discussions of the future Cohesion Policy and to further publicise the results of well succeeded cross-border initiatives. Some sectors of opinion are still sceptical about the real added value of territorial cooperation and we need to convince them”.

Mercedes Bresso, President of the Committee of the Regions (CoR), who was not able to attend the conference personally, addressed the conference delegates in a video message.   

Jean-Marie Belliard, Région Alsace (FR), presented the activities in the Upper Rhine area, where the three countries France, Germany, and Switzerland have joined forces to overcome the crisis. (->PRESENTATION)

Bent Larsen, spoke about special efforts in the Øresund Committee.

Maria Dolores Pallero Espadero, 1st Vice-President and Spokesperson of the Regional Government of Extremadura (ES) and Vice-President of AEBR, presented projects at the Spanish-Portuguese border, which especially concentrate on youth initiatives. She also stressed the need to initiate political coordination of border regions’ efforts at European levels. (->SPEECH).

PLENARY SESSION II: ROUND TABLE “CB SOLUTIONS FOR TERRITORIAL COHESION”

Olav Jern, Regional Council of Ostrobothnia (FI/SE), chaired this round table of practitioners from different parts of Europe.

Nathalie Leclerc, Associated Director of Intermodes (FR), underlined the importance of intermodal transport modes. The integration of transport means at would be an essential condition for the benefit of cross-border commuters, occasional travellers and tourists.  (->PRESENTATION)

Nuno Almeida, Director of the Coordination and Development Commission of Norte Region (PT) and Xose Lago, Xunta de Galicia (ES) reported about activities to develop a Macroregion in their border area (->PRESENTATION).

Georg Janetzki, Managing Director of the Transport Network Upper Lusatia-Lower Silesia GmbH, Euroregion Neisse (CZ/DE/PL), presented the “EURO-NEISSE-Ticket”, which aims at intensifying integration of citizens in this border area between Germany, Czech Republic and Poland. The EURO-NEISSE-Ticket was launched on the occasion of the EU accession of the Czech Republic and Poland on 1st May 2004. (->PRESENTATION)

FINAL SESSION: AEBR Follow-Up and Panel on the State-of-the-Art of the Future European Cohesion Policy and the EU 2020 Strategy

 

The final session, moderated by Martín Guillermo Ramírez, AEBR Secretary General, paid a look at different trends:

- Macro-Regions: CBC within the Baltic Sear area was presented by Nordregio

- CBC at the External Borders of the EU: The case of Trakya Kent

- New Technologies for territorial cooperation: EURISY presented the opportunity opened by the use of satellite technologies.

The Final Declaration of the AEBR Annual Conference 2010, which was passed by the conference delegates on that day, is available for download in English, French, and German: http://www.aebr.eu/en/news/news_detail.php?news_id=42.

Lisbeth Greve Harbo (second from right), Nordregio, offered A Nordic Insight on this topic. With regard to the aims of Nordic cooperation, she said: “The purpose of Nordic co-operation is, on the one hand, to make it attractive to live, work and do business in the Nordic Region, and on the other hand, to strengthen the Nordic countries internationally.” (-> PRESENTATION)

For the first time, a delegation from the Turkish Municipal Association of East West Thrace – Trakyakent (member of AEBR since the year 2000) attended the AEBR General Assembly and Annual Conference. Inci Tunc (second from left), Mayoress of Kavakli, delivered a special greeting message to the conference delegates and reported about the activities in her region, which has a border with Greece (->PRESENTATION).

Olivier Rérolle, Secretary General of EURISY, spoke about “New Technologies for Cohesion”. (-> PRESENTATION)

AEBR General Assembly and Annual Conference 2011

Euroregion Yaroslavna invited the conference delegates to attend the AEBR General Assembly and Annual Conference 2011, which will take place in the City of Kursk (Russian Federation) from 22 to 24 September 2011

Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of AEBR, Minister President of the German-speaking Community of Belgium (BE), concluded the conference. He thanked the hosts East Border Region, especially Councillor John V. Farrelly, Chairman of East Border Region, for all the efforts of his region to make this conference a success.

The closure of the conference was marked with a reception at Darver Castle, county Louth, which was attended by Mairead McGuinness MEP, who also addressed conference delegates on that occasion.

Day 3 - Saturday 23 October 2010

 

The conference delegates had the chance to explore the border area between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland on a bus tour to the Mourne Mountains, an area of outstanding natural beauty. The tour ended in Carlingford, a magical village full of character and one of the best preserved mediaeval villages in Ireland. Carlingford was voted as Ireland’s European Destination of Excellence in 2008. In PJ O’Hares Pub, traditional Irish Stew and Guinness was offered along with a music session.

This marked the end of a memorable stay on the “Emerald Island”.  

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