Euroregion Neisse-Nisa-Nysa

Liberec (Czech Republic), Euroregion Neisse-Nisa-Nysa, 17 September 2015: Seminar of the CoR Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER) on "Current challenges of cross-border regions in Europe" :



 
AEBR Secretary General Martín Guillermo Ramírez (Source: P. Branda)

The objective of this seminar was to identify current challenges of European border regions and evaluate present EU tools supporting cross-border cooperation.

After years of deepening integration and opening borders, European border regions and their citizens are still facing challenges. Although benefiting from various tools providing assistance in the minimisation of the negative effects of borders, cross-border regions still need substantial support in addressing day-to-day obstacles faced by their citizens.

This seminar presented concrete examples of obstacles such as the commuting of workers across the border, mobility and transport infrastructure issues and the need for common actions against natural disasters. In addition, it provided an opportunity for an exchange of information and experience on the challenges faced at local and regional level, and enabled the identification of possible solutions to effectively tackle cross-border obstacles. The role of local and regional authorities in building a Europe closer to the citizens, through effective territorial cooperation was highlighted. 

AEBR was presented in this seminar by its Secretary General Martín Guillermo Ramírez and Mr. Pavel Branda, member of the AEBR Executive Committee and the AEBR Advisory Committee. Mr. Branda is Deputy-Mayor of Rádlo Municipality and takes part in the Czech Delegation to the Committee of the Regions. Mr Martin Půta, President of the Liberec Region, Mr Petr Osvald, First Vice-Chair of the COTER Commission and Rapporteur of the Committee of the Regions on the European Territorial Cooperation Regulation 2014-2020, who made a very interesting analysis of CBC in the region since 1990, and Mr Branda delivered the opening statements of this seminar.

AEBR Secretary General Martin Guillermo chaired session 1 "Overview of challenges of cross-border regions". This session aimed to provide an overview of challenges faced by European border regions in different areas such as mobility, cross-border employment, impact of natural disasters and cultural differences. Mr. Guillermo's main message was that challenges and obstacles in border regions still exist, but there are a growing number of tools and ways to face them efficient and sustainably.

Gordon Keymer, rapporteur of the Committee of the Regions on "Mobility in geographically and demographically challenged regions", member of the COTER commission, stated that border regions require special attention. From the mobility point of view local connectivity across borders is vital. Programs should be more scalable, adaptable to the local needs of border regions and better match each other.

 

Pavel Branda (Source: P. Branda)

Walery Czarnecki reminded that one important area of cooperation is "given by nature": natural disasters management. He underlined the need for common equipment and common training and stressed that there are missing intergovernmental agreements enabling the cooperation on the regional and local level, and many more asymmetries hindering development, particularly hydrological regimes.

Heinz Lehmann, Member of the Saxony Regional Parliament and Member of the Committee of the Regions, focused on mutual relations and the importance of the transition from living far from each other to having a new relationship with own neighbours. Building mutual trust is essential and the best instrument for this is people-to-people projects.

Nikola Dobroslavic, rapporteur of the Committee of the Regions, chaired the second session "European Union tackling Cross-Border Obstacles" in which he introduced his draft opinion "Strengthening Cross-border Cooperation: the need for a better regulatory framework?" and invited to contribute to it. The opinion has been discussed in the COTER session on 2nd October and is to be adopted in the CoR October Plenary session. 

Zsolt Szokolai, European Commission, DG REGIO, reminded that EU has an instrument to support cross-border cooperation - INTERACT. Even though it could be improved it is a great success. Now the EC comes with a good initiative: a study on legal and administrative obstacles for CBC which will enable us to set the instruments well in the future. He announced an online consultation: Overcoming obstacles in border regions (open until 21 December 2015). 

Study tour through Euroregion Neisse-Nisa-Nysa (Source: P. Branda)

Petr Osvald, First Vice-Chair of the COTER commission and rapporteur of the Committee of the Regions on ETC Regulation 2014-2020, focused on the ETC programs and that they should be seen differently. Their main objective is different from the other mainstream EU programs, as they focus on integration and not merely on growth. The main problem faced by the border regions is thematic concentration. CBC programs should be more flexible and multilateral cooperation should be better reflected.

Jaroslav Zámečník, Director of Euroregion Nisa (Czech partner of Euroregion Neisse-Nisa-Nysa) underlined the importance of permanent cooperation structures and reminded that EGTC is only one available tool and sometimes other structures could be more suitable. He also introduced some successful examples of cooperation such as common Neisse University, Europera orchestra or a common Euro-Neisse Ticket.

Cooperation in the field of public transport was then experienced first-hand during the study visit by train ride through all three countries. Also cooperation of towns from 3 countries was presented in the heart of the Euroregion Neisse-Nisa-Nysa.

Euroregion Neisse-Nisa-Nysa (DE/CZ/PL) was founded in 1991, and became member of AEBR in 1992.

Please read also the Press Release of the Committee of the Regions.

 

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