25th Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
Strasbourg, 29-31 October 2013
Transfrontier co-operation: new arrangements for greater effectiveness
Strasbourg, 30.10.2013 – In spite of its practical benefits for citizens and its crucial role in European construction, transfrontier co-operation is still hindered by numerous obstacles inherited from the past, including the sometimes inadequate co-ordination or excessive administrative differences between the bodies responsible for implementing practical projects on either side of a given border.
The report and the resolution debated and adopted on Wednesday 30 October 2013 by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe put forward innovative proposals for tackling these obstacles, which are often greater in the countries which have joined the European institutions recently than in older member states. The challenge is on a par with the significance of cross-border relations: 40% of Europeans live in regions bordering on another state, and 140 of Europe’s 362 regions are themselves border regions.
The report presented by Breda Pecan (Slovenia, SOC) on behalf of the Governance Committee draws on recent work by the Congress, in particular a conference held in Innsbruck in 2012. It also addresses the way in which the new concepts of European governance, in particular multilevel governance, can facilitate transfrontier co-operation. Under the subsidiarity principle, transfrontier bodies should be able to deal directly with matters which concern them without having to involve national authorities.
The report lists the challenges to be tackled by those involved in transfrontier co-operation, including developing equivalences between political and administrative systems, transferring competencies and information, optimising interaction between the various players and, of course, identifying transfrontier activities which are most relevant and also most profitable and sustainable. The document then considers how transfrontier bodies can best fit into the various European governance frameworks, both horizontally and vertically.
The establishment of co-operation arrangements that are less institutional and more flexible and the entry into force of new instruments such as Euro-regional Co-operation Groupings (ECGs) will provide more effective responses to local and regional authorities’ expectations in these areas. In co-operation with the Euro-Institute in Kehl (Germany) and the University of Strasbourg, the Congress is conducting research into all these different co-operation types and arrangements and will bring the key European players together at a joint conference in 2014. Its task will be to prepare an action plan for transfrontier co-operation to be launched by 2017.