Meetings of the MOT network’s working groups: the recordings are onlineMay 2022
Between late April and early May, three important topics for cross-border territories were the subject of discussions for the network’s working groups: the impact of cross-border projects on the environment; the issue of social security with respect to cross-border employment; and the definition and recognition of “cross-border living areas”. Below is a preliminary summary of the discussions.
“Ecological Transition” working group: what is the acceptability of projects that have an impact on the cross-border environment?
With 40 participants online, the second meeting of the “Ecological Transition” working group took place on 27 April 2022. After framing the concept of “acceptability” by citizens, the co-facilitators, Pia Gerzmann (Basel Trinational Eurodistrict) and Pierre Clap (Besançon Centre Franche-Comté Urban Planning Agency – AUDAB) opened up the discussion for players from the Franco-Swiss border area to share local experiences.
Yannick Nancy, Director of the Watchmaking Doubs Regional Nature Park, set out different avenues for strengthening synergies in the area of the ecological transition in the Jura Arc, particularly with respect to water management: “It seems crucial to create frameworks for structured dialogue with neighbouring countries to address the need for mutual knowledge of legal, political and management aspects, and to understand consultation procedures in the different countries.”
Anna-Karina Kolb, Director of the Department of European, Regional and Federal Affairs for the Canton of Geneva, illustrated the issues around cross-border acceptability with examples of infrastructure projects planned within Greater Geneva: sediment management on the Rhône, nuclear energy, the motorway network and commercial infrastructures.
The second part was devoted to public survey procedures and consultation processes in a cross-border context.
Gaëlle Chevreau, who had been in charge of the consultation process for the Celtic Interconnector project for RTE France, set out the lessons learned from the consultation relating to the undersea electricity interconnector between France and Ireland, which showed up very different approaches with regard to consultation and acceptability, in spite of the common European regulatory framework.
Michael Umhey, a policy officer at the Regierungspräsidium Freiburg, explained the process carried out for the Upper Rhine, which led to the publication of a Guide* to the procedure for cross-border consultations concerning projects, plans and programmes that have significant impacts on the environment.
To carry on the discussions on this topic, come and meet us at the Borders Forum on 21-22 June: several roundtables will address the challenges relating to the ecological transition. Click here to consult the programme.
“Solidarity and Co-development” working group: the issue of social security with respect to cross-border employment
Around thirty participants met online on Friday 6 May for the next session of the “Solidarity and Co-development” working group focused on the topic of cross-border work and social security.
Aurélien Biscaut, the MOT’s Secretary-General, and the two co-facilitators, Jérôme Marchal (Lorraine Corridor Metropolitan Pole) and Simon Jodogne (Lille European Metropolis), introduced the aims of the meeting. The discussions then focused on the topic of unemployment benefit for cross-border workers, with a presentation of the UNEDIC study "Indemnisation des frontaliers par l’assurance chômage" (“Compensation of cross-border workers through unemployment insurance”) by Céline Jaeggy and Adrien Calas. Having set out the current regulations concerning cross-border workers’ unemployment benefit and the profile of these workers, UNEDIC discussed the proposed revision of European regulations in this area. This is crucial for UNEDIC, for which the current regulations generate an additional cost estimated at a total of €6 billion.
In the second part of the session, Aurélie Brière and Gaëlle Nahmani (Centre des Liaisons Européennes et Internationales de Sécurité Sociale – CLEISS) presented the missions of the CLEISS and set out the issues related to the European mechanism for the coordination of social security systems. The foundation for cross-border work and mobility, this mechanism is an example of the integration of national systems.
This first meeting of the year of the working group prompted many reactions from all the participants, particularly about the long-term economic impact of cross-border workers’ unemployment benefit and the changes needed to the regulations concerning cross-border teleworking in Europe.
A real momentum was generated by this session, which will be the subject of a report and of further discussions to address in greater depth these major issues for border areas. Another meeting will be held in the second half of the year.
"Cross-border governance” working group: defining and recognising “cross-border living areas”
On 20 April, a session of this working group took place on the topic “shared living areas” and “cross-border mobility areas”. Researchers and actors on the ground met to work on formulating a common concept for the benefit of cross-border territories and their inhabitants. The idea was to bring together different approaches being used derived both from domestic normative acts and European programmes, as well as reflections on certain borders about bilateral commitments of the cross-border living area agreement type (e.g. France-Switzerland).
As areas where administrative, legal, economic and other standards of countries and local domestic entities meet, they encounter many obstacles since these standards are very diverse and differ according to each country’s domestic organisation. This is why the concept of cross-border living areas, once it has been recognised and its features defined, should help to overcome these obstacles, notably by drawing on the interactions and projects of different players along the borders, but also all the types of mobility that take place there.
It was about these obstacles and the possible ways to recognise cross-border living areas that Professor Joachim Beck, from Kehl University of Applied Sciences in Germany, spoke. His talk was followed by accounts from the field by the Directors of the Pamina and Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai EGTCs, who corroborated and reinforced the ideas set out by Professor Beck by providing a practical perspective both on the specific status that might be envisaged for these shared border areas and the local governance to be put in place.
All of these reflections were complemented by a contribution from the Ambassador for Intergovernmental Commissions, Cooperation and Border Issues, Phillipe Voiry, on the initiatives and support proposed by the French government to recognise cross-border living areas. Lastly, some perspectives for the future were outlined by the MOT’s Director-General, Jean Peyrony.
Click here to access the recording of the sessions