The first Borders Forum brought together over 700 participants online

December 2020

The first Borders Forum brought together over 700 participants online

The first Borders Forum was a great success, with over 700 participants online throughout two days of discussions, on 9-10 November 2020. The event was organised by the MOT, in partnership with the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions.

At the start of the discussions, which were moderated on the first day by Caroline de Camaret, Editor-in-Chief Europe at France 24, the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, stated that, “we could no longer ignore the situation at borders. That is why we need an approach based on the local level and coordination between regions."

"As soon as there is a crisis, whether it’s terrorist attacks, the migrant crisis or now Covid, countries close their borders," pointed out Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community of Belgium and President of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR), "even outside of any European legislation, when cooperation across borders is precisely what is needed".

According to Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions: "The closures, which were very often decided without consulting local elected representatives, had drastic consequences for thousands of cross-border area inhabitants who could not go to work, receive medical treatment or see their loved ones, even if it was a matter of just a few kilometres from their homes. But this negative effect was felt far beyond these areas, across of the EU, with the risk of collapse of some business sectors. Cross-border territories represent 40% of the total territory of the EU – it is therefore not the problem of a few people, but one affecting everybody!"

The MOT’s President, Christian Dupessey, the Mayor of Annemasse, went on to add: "Now we feel like saying: never again! No more harsh measures, but instead coordination, coherence and a genuine policy for cross-border areas, with an overall vision involving citizens. I believe that it is possible – solidarity in periods of crisis exists, especially in the area of healthcare."

For Anne Sander, MEP and Vice-President of the MOT: "Many obstacles remain and a great number of them come under the direct responsibility of Member States. We need a stronger European legal framework, and that’s why we strongly support the proposed ECBCM aimed at overcoming cross-border obstacles."

It is in this context that the MOT, the AEBR and CESCI, backed by the European Committee of the Regions, have officially presented the “European Cross-Border Citizens Alliance”.

The four roundtables on the first day underscored the needs of border territories: long-standing needs that have been greatly exacerbated by the crisis. They also highlighted the progress that has been made and the successes of cooperation: Interreg, the EGCTs – with those of the PAMINA Eurodistrict and the Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai Eurometropolis, both MOT members, having received the Committee of the Regions EGTC prize – and the Franco-German Aachen Treaty. The latter was described as a precursor, "opening the way to a new stage", by the French Minister of State Clément Beaune.

On the second day, the territories along France’s borders were presented in relation to core themes (climate change, mobility, attractiveness, digital), while at the same time highlighting their great diversity (metropolises, rural areas, mountain areas, etc.).
Roland Theis, State Secretary (Saarland) for European Affairs, stressed that: "Cross-border cooperation in healthcare saves lives. We have to have this freedom to act in the cross-border setting without having to wait for solutions from Berlin or Paris. This is the freedom we need if we wish to be ‘laboratories for the Europe of tomorrow’ – a Europe of concrete action."

For Christophe Arend, MP for Moselle and member of the Franco-German Assembly, the next stage "will take place in France in the ‘3D’ Act, which should contain a chapter on the cross-border dimension, since the smart solutions devised on the border with Germany can be transposed to all of France’s and Europe’s borders" (more info).

- Access all of the replays
- Press kit
- Event website

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