AEBR Executive Committee meeting held on 3rd and 4th June 2011 in Gotse Delchev, Euroregion Nestos-Mesta, Bulgaria :



 

On invitation of Euroregion Nestos-Mesta, the Executive Committee of the AEBR met in in Gotse Delchev to discuss about the latest developments of the European Territorial Cohesion, the budget of the Union, proposed conditionalities and other topics of interest for European border regions. Some relevant documents were also presented on Cohesion, Demographic Change, Tourism, etc., including a revised version of the Territorial Agenda. Latest AEBR contacts and position papers (e.g. roaming) and some initiatives to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Association were also discussed, particularly in the framework of the 2011 General Assembly and Annual Conference in Kursk (Euroregion Yaroslavna, Russian Federation). New members from different parts of Europe are joining the AEBR or are interested in taking part in AEBR activities. On the other hand, new instruments are to be used for a better communication and exchange with members, partners and other stakeholders. To this end, the Association is working to find the best options in order to be implemented as soon as possible.

The spring meeting of the AEBR Executive Committee was held on invitation of Euroregion Nestos-Mesta in in Gotse Delchev (Bulgaria).

Mr. Karl-Heinz Lambertz, Minister-President of the German-speaking Community of Belgium and President of the AEBR, and Mr. Vladimir Moskov, Mayor of Gotse Delchev, welcomed the participants to the first meeting of the AEBR Executive Committee in Bulgaria.

After the approval of the minutes of the previous Executive Committee in Tábor (Euregio Silva-Nortica) on 4th February 2011, President Lambertz introduced the latest developments of European Territorial Cohesion and other relevant issues regarding AEBR relationship with European Institutions (CoR, European Parliament, Council of Europe) and other partners. The main question here is the current debate on the Multiannual Financial Framework of the EU, the budget of the Union for the next period, and its impact on the future Territorial Cohesion, particularly after the complicated discussion about several types of conditionality to be applied to EU funding. The governance of resulting programmes, management flexibility and the share of cross-border cooperation in the next Territorial Cooperation objective are some of the hot topics[1]. The proliferation of macro-regions and the creation of an “intermediate” category of regions were also tackled.

Secretary General Martín Guillermo presented the “Summary Report: Contributions of the AEBR to the debates on the European Cohesion Policy: the Future of Cross-Border Cooperation” (http://www.aebr.eu/files/publications/110301_AEBR_and_Cohesion_Policy_Historic_Summary_EN.pdf), which summaries and links to all contributions made by AEBR on this topic since 2007. He also presented the revised text of the Territorial Agenda, approved at the Informal Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Spatial Planning and Territorial Development held on 19th May in Gödöllő (Hungary). The revised text includes a new policy framework, trends, challenges and priorities; as well as the implementation mechanisms with the aim of making the Strategy EU2020 a success, including the territorial coordination of sectorial policies.

 The Chairman of the Advisory Committee, Mr. Jens Gabbe, presented several reports of interest for European border and cross-border regions:

-          MEP Markus Pieper on the Commission’s 5th Cohesion Report and Strategy for Cohesion Policy (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/regi/pr/861/861909/861909en.pdf);

-          MEP Marie-Thérèse Sánchez-Schmid on “Objective 3: a challenge for territorial cooperation - the future agenda for cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation” (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+REPORT+A7-2011-0110+0+DOC+PDF+V0//EN), as well as the AEBR Position paper (http://www.aebr.eu/en/publications/publications.php).

-          The AEBR Statement on the Council of Europe’s Questionnaire on “Removing Obstacles and Promoting Good Practices on Cross-Border Cooperation” (http://www.aebr.eu/files/publications/AEBR_statement_questionnaire_Council_of_Europe_EN.pdf; for the questionnaire see http://www.aebr.eu/files/publications/Annex_1_-_questionnaire_Council_of_Europe__EN.pdf).

-          Scientific Report on the “Mobility of Cross-Border Workers within the EU-27/EEA/EFTA Countries" on behalf of the European Commission, DG Employment and Social Affairs, presented in January 2009. The report was elaborated by MKW Wirtschaftsförderung GmbH, Munich and Empirica Kft. (Sopron) and can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=81&langId=en (in the section “related documents”).

-          "Mapping Regional Demographic Change and Regional Demographic Risk in Europe", elaborated by Prof. Dr. Thusnelda Tivig, Katharina Frosche and Stephan Kühntopf (Rostock Center for the study of demographic change). The report (108 pages) is available following this link: http://www.demographic-risk-map.eu/downloads/final-report.pdf. The more comprehensive “Demographic Risk Atlas” (328 pages) is not offered for download, but can be ordered (more information:

http://www.demographicchange.info/en_demographic-risk-atlas.asp).

-          European Parliament, Committee on Regional Development: Working Document on “Demographic Change and its Consequences for the future cohesion policy of the EU”. Rapporteur: Kerstin Westphal (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/regi/pr/861/861797/861797en.pdf). 

-     European Parliament, Committee on Transport and Tourism: Draft Opinion on “Europe, the world’s No 1 tourist destination – a new political framework for tourism in Europe“ (2009 - 2014(INI)). Rapporteur: Carlo Fidanza (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+COMPARL+PE-450.742+01+DOC+PDF+V0//EN&language=EN).

Mr. Rudolf Godesar (Euregio Meuse-Rhine) briefly reported on the current debate on “roaming”, particularly the effects of inadvertent roaming in border areas. The AEBR position paper to the Commission’s consultation on a review of the functioning of the European Roaming Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 544/2009) was also discussed: http://www.aebr.eu/files/publications/110211_AEBR_letter_roaming_consultation.pdf.

In agenda item 4 (Future of Interreg: Lessons learned from the experience in the new EU Member States), Mr. Iuliu Bara (Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism, Romania) offered a very interesting view from an EU Eastern External Border.

Regarding internal AEBR issues, the Executive Committee was informed that several potential new members have approached the Secretariat and the President in recent times. After welcoming the German side or the Euroregion Pro Europa Viadrina at the beginning of this year, on this occasion we have been very pleased to welcome the German-speaking Community of Belgium as a new full AEBR member.

In the framework of the AEBR’s 40th Anniversary, a consultation has been launched amongst AEBR members in order to enhance our practice, better prepare activities and establish more participation and exchange channels. The results of this consultation and a road map for the AEBR in the next years is under preparation and will be presented in Kursk.

An overview was also given on the activities of the AEBR Task Forces:

TF Cross-border Health

At the end of March, the Task Force Cross-Border Health has successfully submitted a project proposal to the last call for Interreg IV-C. In May, the Secretary General of the AEBR presented in Boston a communication on “Cross-Border Health in the EU” during the 12th Conference of the International Society of Travel Medicine. The Poster presentation and an abstract are available at this http://www.aebr.eu/files/publications/Poster_4.0__post_Boston_.pdf. The final activities of the Project EUREGIO II, “Solutions for improving health care cooperation in border regions” are on their way. A partners’ meeting and a workshop on Health Technology Assessment (HTA) took place in Sofia on 30-31 May. The EUREGIO II Final Conference is expected to take place in Maastricht on 15-17 November 2011, and a Handbook on the “effective use of Interreg funding in cross-border health care” will be presented.

TF External borders

With regard to the Eastern Partnership, the Secretary General informed that the AEBR follows very closely the efforts of EU Members at the external borders and the Eastern neighbouring countries to develop their territorial approaches. In 2011, the AEBR General Assembly and Annual Conference will be held in Kursk (Euroregion Yaroslavna, Russian Federation), from 22-24 September, paying a special attention to the development of cross-border cooperation at the external borders of the EU and far beyond. The latest programme version is available at http://www.aebr.eu//files/filemanager_files//dummy/MGV/2011_Kursk/Programme/110617_GAAC_Kursk_programme_draft_EN.pdf

On the developments in the Mediterranean, the situation in the Southern Mediterranean is far from being clear, and the EU is making some steps to support democratic and decentralization processes in the area.

Cooperation with NEEBOR: The 6th Annual Conference of the “Network of Eastern External Border Regions” (NEEBOR) took place from 3-5 March 2011 in Alexandropoulos, Greece. There are concrete plans to strengthen the relationship with NEEBOR and the AEBR. To this end, a first meeting took place in Brussels on 11th April between representatives of NEEBOR, the Chairman of the AEBR Task Force External Borders and the Secretary General.

Information was also given on the activities related to the preparation of the AEBR Youth Forum 2011, to be held in Lappeenranta (South Karelia, Finland) from 8-12 August. More than 160 applications have been received to take part in the third edition of our Summer Forum (http://www.aebr.eu/en/news/news_detail.php?news_id=82).

TF Languages & Borders / Multilingualism

Contacts have been made with the Commission’s Directorate in charge of Multilingualism to explain efforts made by AEBR members to develop CBC in matter of languages.

TF Research & Development and Innovation

On 5 and 6 April, the AEBR II Forum on R&D and Innovation in Border Regions took place in Vigo, hosted by the Xunta de Galicia and the EGTC Galicia-Norte. More than 80 participants from different European border regions, universities, the economic sector and EU Institutions gathered to offer an overview of the opportunities in this field opened for European border regions, in the light of the 5th Cohesion Report and the EU2020 Strategy. Different projects that can be extended to other European areas were also presented, as well as some good examples and tools. Due to the success of this event, the organisers agreed to hold the III Forum in spring 2013. A report about the Vigo Forum is available on http://www.aebr.eu/en/news/news_detail.php?news_id=61. 

The meeting concluded with some information about the CBC in the Mediterranean, Africa and Latin America and the article which appeared in “Europolitics” on “Local and Regional Authorities and CBC: Good Tools for Development”, by Ignacio Sánchez Amor and Martín Guillermo Ramírez (http://www.aebr.eu/files/publications/Article_CBC_-_Europolitics_110412_-_p16.pdf).

You will find the articles that were published in the local press (in Bulgarian language) here:

Viara Newspaper: http://www.aebr.eu//files/filemanager_files//test/ExCom_Gotse_Delchev/Viara_newspaper.pdf;

Hronika Newspaper:

http://www.aebr.eu//files/filemanager_files//test/ExCom_Gotse_Delchev/Hronika_newspaper.pdf).



 



[1] These issues have been recently discussed with the President of the European Commission, Mr. José Manuel Barroso, by the presidents of the European Associations of Regions and Municipalities. See AEBR website: http://www.aebr.eu/en/news/news_detail.php?news_id=89

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