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The European Commission addresses other EU institutions on cross-border cooperation

19 July 2021

On 14 July 2021, the European Commission has released its report EU Border Regions: Living labs of European integration, an assessment of its own work in following up on the Communication Boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions (COM(2017) 534 final, 20.9.2017) and on the status quo of cross-border cooperation in the EU.

While addressing the European Parliament, the Council, the European economic and social Committee and the Committee of the regions, the Commission reflects on its own work in setting up the actions presented in its Communication of 2017 and outlines new priorities and endeavours for the next years to support border regions. Starting point is the main lesson learnt in the last years: border regions are still vulnerable to decisions by Member States at the national level, and this affects the resilience of border regions to react to crises. The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly shown that the more border regions are integrated with their neighbours, the quicker and the better they can respond to their citizens’ needs also in a context of crisis.

Looking forward, in its revision of the 2017 action plan to adapt it to a new context, the European Commission calls for priorities to support border regions to be laboratories of European integration in the next future. To achieve these priorities, the European Commission will support particularly:

  • institutional cooperation, by strengthening cross-border governance, promoting European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTCs) and focusing on the legal framework to resolve border obstacles;
  • the development of strong cross-border public services, among others via digitisation and interoperability, for the benefits of citizens in border regions;
  • the enhancement of cross-border labour markets for jobs to be seamlessly accessible on both sides of the border, with focus on: access, taxation, information on vacancies, recognition of qualifications, training and education;
  • the implementation of the Green Deal through collaboration across the borders looking at joint and coherent strategies to protect biodiversity, maintain ecological corridors and natural parks, plan renewable energy deployment and energy efficiency measures and allow for energy system integration.

The Commission announces specific actions and calls the other European institutions to collaborate towards the common goal of boosting European integration, starting from border regions.

Among these promising steps forward to allow for more cross-border cooperation, the European Commission also announced the continuation of the b-solutions initiative, which has demonstrated to be key in enhancing innovative solutions for border regions. And, the report concludes, “it is time to step up cross-border cooperation on all fronts, in all sectors and across sectors” by making border regions the central actors of European integration – and especially so cross-border regions bordering accession countries.

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