The conclusions of Luxembourg's presidency in the area of cross-border cooperationDecember 2015
Within the framework of its presidency of the EU Council, on 26-27 November 2015, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg brought together the European ministers responsible for territorial cohesion and urban policy for an informal meeting in Luxembourg. The discussions fed into the conclusions of the Luxembourg presidency, which is proposing actions to facilitate cross-border cooperation within the EU.
One of them, formulated with technical assistance from the MOT,1 consists in putting in place a legal tool based on a European regulation. This tool would enable local authorities that are faced with a legal obstacle regarding a cross-border project to propose to their respective governments a legal framework that is specific2 to the functioning of the project concerned. For example, in the case of the extension of a tramline on the other side of a border, the standards of one of the countries could be applied on both sides. In short, governments could recognise the application of normative provisions from the law of a neighbouring country in order to facilitate the functioning of a specific cross-border project. This new form of mutual recognition would help with the implementation of cross-border projects and thereby benefit border populations.
On 26 November, the ministers in charge of regional planning greeted this proposal favourably. On 27 November, the ministers responsible for urban policy notably discussed strategies to promote small and medium-sized towns, affirming the role of networks of cross-border towns and arguing for "polycentric development" in cross-border regions.
The need to strengthen the knowledge base and evidence on cross-border regions was also underlined through support for the creation of observatories producing cross-border data. The Luxembourg presidency also welcomed the European Commission's initiative in the area of cross-border statistics, which aims to coordinate the work with Member States, calling for greater involvement on their side. The MOT is itself very involved in this domain alongside the General Commission for Territorial Equality (CGET) and its European partners.
In addition, the refugee crisis in Europe was addressed on 26 November, first of all to emphasise the role played by cities and the need to adapt European urban policy, but also in the EU General Affairs Council,3 which discussed the possibility of using Interreg to respond to the challenge of their integration. The European Commissioner responsible for regional policy, Corina Crețu, raised the possibility of adapting the content of certain cooperation programmes.
For the first time, the General Affairs Council discussed cross-border cooperation extensively. Beyond the refugee crisis, it welcomed Luxembourg's initiative that made it possible to address the issues relating to cross-border cooperation at this level and to highlight the beneficial role played by Interreg over the past 25 years in strengthening regional integration and its value added in socio-economic, environmental, cultural, institutional and political terms, and the positive effect it has had particularly in the outermost and least populated regions. The Commission's initiative to work on the obstacles to cross-border cooperation was welcomed and the coordination between Member States in the area of cross-border statistical observation warmly encouraged, with the Commission and Member States invited to work on a pragmatic approach, focused on results, for European territorial cooperation programmes.
1 To consult the study, click here. All the MOT's work in the framework of the Luxembourg's presidency: click here.
2 Which brings together the 28 ministers of European affairs and which prepares the European Council, made up of heads of state and government.
3 Derived from the law of one or other of the parties.
The Luxembourg Presidency conclusions (Territorial cohesion and Urban policy)
More info on the Luxembourg presidency's website
More info on the MOT's work in the area of observation
Read the editorial from François Bausch, Minister for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
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