33 more cases of obstacles to CBC to be investigated under b-solutions:



 

The Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) and the EU Commission’s DG REGIO performed the quality assessment of the forty-four applications received under the 2nd Call for proposals of the b-solutions initiative. Thirty-three obstacles of a legal or administrative nature hampering cross-border cooperation were selected to receive consultancy.

The full list of successful cases was announced on the EU Commission platform “Boosting EU border regions” on the 14th of June.

They were identified within six out of the eight thematic areas included in the EU Commission’s COM (2017) 534 "Boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions", namely: Institutional cooperation, Employment, Transport, Health, eGovernment and Multi-lingualism.

Twelve cases refer to the “Institutional cooperation” thematic area. They cover a variety of topics, from the elaboration of common protocols to manage emergencies and environmental issues to the legal provisions that limit the settlement of joint practices in tourism, industrial processes and circular economy management. Legal and administrative impediments were found also in the management of municipality services and concerning local mobility and inter-universities cooperation.

Transport facilities are key facilitators of cooperation and integration processes, especially in border regions. However, the seven cases selected with b-solutions in the field of transport show that different legal dispositions continue to cause lacking connections between both maritime and land territories. Limits were encountered also concerning the provision of eBike sharing infrastructures and the management of anti-pollution vignettes for private cars.

Labour mobility and employment were recognised as the thematic areas mostly affected by border legal obstacles in the COM (2017) 534. Six cases have been selected under the thematic area “Employment”. Local authorities face manifold obstacles when integrating labour markets, due to limitations to the mobility of EU and non-EU citizens. Furthermore, social security issues are still uncertain when crossing borders to work.

The applications awarded under the section “Health”, a priority theme for border regions as illustrated in the Directive (2011/24/EU), show that healthcare-related hurdles were encountered by CB structures in basic aspects of healthcare collaboration: while managing joint emergency systems and in relation to the mutual recognition of professional diplomas.

Moreover, another case falls in the “eGovernment” section and illustrates how the creation of different national digital platforms might lead to unfair procurement competition for the provision of services while implementing CB projects. Fostering an open, efficient and inclusive public administration through the promotion of solutions encompassing digital procedures is another priority of the EU, as described in The “eGovernment“ Action Plan 2016-2020 – COM(2016)-179.

Finally, the limitations of access to multi-lingual online contents as a source of cultural and linguistic skills is the major hindrance described in the case submitted and selected under the “Multi-lingulism” thematic area.

In the framework of b-solutions AEBR is hiring experts to provide consultancy on every selected case of obstacles to cross-border cooperation. They will explain, analyse and illustrate these obstacles and will propose a roadmap towards possible solutions too. The implementation period will last until mid-October.

AEBR, in cooperation with the EU Commission, will then elaborate a compendium including the main findings. Lessons learned and policy recommendations for decision-makers are expected to be the major outputs of this initiative.

In the meantime, the Committee of the Regions formalised its support to b-solutions, having recognised it among the “best practices” listed in the Opinion “Cross-border dimension in disaster risk reduction (DRR)” adopted by the CoR during its 135th Plenary Session on 26-27 June 2019.

In article 40 of the Opinion, the CoR encourages all regions facing obstacles of a legal or administrative nature hindering the prevention and reduction of natural disasters to participate in future calls for proposals. In fact, one of the recommendations that b-solutions will certainly propose is to leave open a register of CB obstacles, which could be connected to the implementation of the ECBM (in case this important instrument is finally implemented by the EU).

Finally, in occasion of the EU Regions Week 2019 in Brussels, some of the cases will be presented during a workshop taking place on 9th October (16:30-19:00) entitled “Completing the toolbox to overcome legal obstacles in cross-border regions” co-organised by AEBR and DG Regio.

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