Reflexions on the Conference "Living in Border Regions - Tackling the challenges"

May 2023

Reflexions on the Conference "Living in Border Regions - Tackling the challenges"

The conference "Living in Border Regions - Tackling the challenges" was organized on April 17th, 2023, in Brussels, by the European Alliance for Cross-Border Citizens (CoR, MOT, AEBR, CESCI). Its objective was to study the possible ways to relaunch the draft regulation on the "European Cross-Border Mechanism" (ECBM).

Despite decades of European integration, legal and administrative obstacles still persist in cross-border territories; but the draft regulation on the ECBM, proposed by the Commission in 2018 and aimed at resolving these obstacles, is currently blocked in the Council of the European Union.

Martin Guillermo Ramirez, Secretary General of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR), moderated an initial discussion focused on the challenges faced by residents of border regions. These exchanges were fueled by examples from various territories, from the Euroregion New Aquitaine - Euskadi - Navarra to the border between Norway and Sweden. The b-solutions tool was cited as a key tool for identifying and tackling border obstacles, but the need to go further is clear.

In the second part, with an intervention by Jean Peyrony, Director General of the MOT, the discussion focused on the actions of the EU and Member States to facilitate life in border regions. In the European context, the (unfounded) feeling that the sovereignty of the States was threatened was one of the main reasons for opposition to the ECBM. Croatia is one of the countries that opposes the tool, but Nikola Dobroslavić, president of the Croatian Dubrovnik-Neretva Region and a member of the CoR, believes it is possible that a simplified version of the regulation could be approved by the Council.

In his closing remarks, Pavel Branda, CoR member and chairman of the CoR Interregional Group on Cross-Border Cooperation, stated: Cross-border cooperation does not happen 'automatically'. It requires borders to be opened, but also the will, money, structures, and legal and administrative arrangements; in regard to this last factor, the adoption of the ECBM regulation will be decisive for the future of cooperation.

To be noted:
A report and a study of the European Parliament to relaunch ECBM have just been published. More info

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