Recommendation 85 (2000)1 on democratic stability through transfrontier co-operation in Europe

The Congress,

Bearing in mind the proposal of the Chamber of Regions,

1. Having taken note of the report by Mr Coifan (Chamber of Regions), presenting the results of the 7th European Conference of Border Regions, which took place from 28 to 30 October 1999;

2. Noting with satisfaction the positive development of transfrontier co-operation since the 6th Conference, held in Ljubljana (Slovenia) in 1995 and in particular:

— the entry into force in December 1998 of the Additional Protocol to the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities;

— the adoption in 1998 of Protocol No. 2 to the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities on inter-territorial co-operation;

— the recognition of the transfrontier co-operation dimension in the draft European Charter of Regional Self-Government drawn up by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, which they wish to see adopted quickly by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, and the work currently in progress on the adoption of the European Charter of Mountain Regions;

3. Reaffirming the fundamental importance of transfrontier co-operation for the European construction process and for establishing a climate of confidence through tolerance, mutual understanding, solidarity and good-neighbourly relations between the inhabitants of different countries, particularly in border regions which are home to minorities;

4. Noting, however, that there are still legal and administrative obstacles to the movement of persons and goods and the development of transfrontier co-operation, especially in areas where dividing lines exist which are not internationally recognised;

5. Stressing the crucial role of the Council of Europe in promoting transfrontier co-operation at pan-European level through its fundamental objectives of democracy, respect for human rights and local and regional self-government, through its technical and legal activities and its European conferences on transfrontier co-operation organised on a regular basis by the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe;

6. Reaffirming, in particular, the experience acquired by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe in this field, especially with regard to the expert assistance to be given to local and regional authorities in setting up permanent transfrontier co-operation arrangements, of which full use ought to be made in implementing the intergovernmental programme of activities;

7. Welcoming the co-operation between the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe and the Parliamentary Assembly, demonstrated by the joint organisation of the 7th Conference of Border Regions;

8. Welcoming the recent enlargement of the Council of Europe's intergovernmental programme of activities with regard to the promotion of inter-territorial co-operation in Europe;

9. Noting with interest the activities carried on by the Committee of Advisers of the Council of Europe since 1995 to promote transfrontier co-operation in central and east European countries and its contribution to intergovernmental co-operation;

10. Considering the crucial role of transfrontier co-operation in promoting and strengthening local and regional democracy and implementing the devolution of powers and the principle of subsidiarity;

11. Recalling the assistance and advice provided by the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) and the Assembly of European Regions (AER) in promoting transfrontier co-operation, particularly in central and east European regions;

12. Stressing the vital role of European Union programmes (Phare, Tacis, Interreg and MED) in supporting inter-regional and transnational transfrontier projects;

13. Considering that transfrontier and inter-territorial co-operation is an important element of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe since, according to the heads of state and government of the Council of Europe at the Vienna Summit in 1993, the creation of a tolerant and prosperous Europe also requires transfrontier co-operation between local and regional authorities;

I Decides to endorse the considerations and recommendations of the Final Declaration unanimously adopted on 30 October 1999 and set out in the appendix

II Recommends national authorities :

14. to take account in their administrative policies and measures of the recommendations set out in the Final Declaration of the 7th Conference;

15. to supplement European legal provisions with improvements in domestic law governing transfrontier co-operation and conclude bilateral and multilateral agreements at local, regional and national level;

16. to sign and/or ratify the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities and its protocols, and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages;

17. to develop vertical and horizontal partnerships between national, regional and local authorities in order to establish a concerted strategy for the development of transfrontier co-operation, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity;

18. to involve in particular representatives of national authorities in institutions and activities concerning transfrontier co-operation between the regions of central and eastern Europe as well as in the activities of the Commonwealth of Independent States so as to take account of local and national legal systems;

19. to eliminate the legal and administrative obstacles which still hamper the general development of transfrontier co-operation, particularly with regard to visas, and ratify the 1957 European Agreement on Regulations governing the Movement of Persons between Member States of the Council of Europe;

20. to set up new border crossing points in greater Europe, in view of the increase in socio-economic transfrontier activities, and provide national, local and regional authorities responsible for transfrontier co-operation with the necessary staff to cope with growing needs;

21. to pay special attention in their regional development plans to the problems of border regions and give them priority in the distribution of funds and investments concerning infrastructure and socio-cultural and commercial amenities;

22. to encourage devolution and provide local and regional authorities with effective powers that they can exercise at transfrontier level, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity and the provisions contained in the Additional Protocols to the Outline Convention;

23. to promote the teaching of the languages of neighbouring countries/regions, using appropriate financial resources;

24. to promote transfrontier co-operation as a means of furthering economic development and setting up networks of small and medium-sized businesses, chambers of commerce and industry, universities, non-governmental organisations and representatives of civil society;

25. to encourage the setting up of transfrontier working structures through the funding of training programmes for local elected representatives and administrators and exchanges of experts;

26. to encourage regular meetings of the representatives of transfrontier co-operation in the field of legislative and legal co-operation, particularly in central and eastern Europe;

27. to encourage and facilitate the establishment of Euroregions, particularly in central and eastern Europe, drawing on European experience in setting up networks and working arrangements to promote good-neighbourly relations;

28. to take account of the problem of transfrontier co-operation within towns and cities divided by national borders, and give them specific support and attention to overcome the obstacles to the mobility of citizens living in what was traditionally a single urban unit;

III Recommends the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe :

29. to promote co-operation activities in European frontier areas beset by serious problems and, in this connection, devote particular attention to the Caucasian countries and the South-Eastern European countries;

30. to invite the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning to give greater priority to transfrontier co-operation in the guiding principles which will be submitted at their next session scheduled for September 2000 in Hanover, and take account of the impact of transfrontier co-operation on the implementation of a transfrontier policy for regional/spatial planning and sustainable development to help create joint sectoral projects, in particular with regard to transport and infrastructure, transfrontier employment catchment areas, joint strategies for tourism, cultural development, education and the conservation of natural and cultural heritage;

31. to instruct the Secretary General to enter into negotiations, as part of the Stability Pact, with a view to preparing a multilateral agreement between the countries of South-Eastern Europe on transfrontier and inter-territorial co-operation between local and regional authorities, since transfrontier co-operation in South-Eastern Europe should be dealt with in a multilateral framework involving the countries which make up that part of Europe;

32. to ask the Select Committee of Experts on Transfrontier Co-operation (LR-R-CT) to take stock of progress in implementing the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities, twenty years after its adoption, and to organise a conference on the findings;

33. to step up the transfrontier co-operation activities of the intergovernmental programme and ensure that the aspects of transfrontier co-operation are incorporated into all areas of the intergovernmental programme, thus guaranteeing its promotion at different levels and in different sectors;

34. to support transfrontier projects designed to promote and strengthen tolerance, solidarity, confidence, mutual understanding and good-neighbourly relations through its Confidence-Building Measures Programme or by supporting the Local Democracy Agencies;

35. to promote, by using the tools provided in the intergovernmental work programme, the establishment of Euroregions as transfrontier co-operation structures which help to establish democratic stability, particularly in the Caucasian countries and South-Eastern European countries and ensure that the Council of Europe's basic texts on transfrontier co-operation are translated into the relevant national languages —increasing the financial resources at the Council of Europe’s disposal, if necessary by means of voluntary contributions;

36. to instruct the Select Committee of Experts on Transfrontier Co-operation (LR-R-CT) to launch a study on the specific problems of towns and cities divided by national frontiers, and draw up measures to lessen the effects of this division on local inhabitants living in what was traditionally a single town or city;

37. to pursue and step up co-operation with the European Union and take account of transfrontier co-operation when drawing up joint programmes so as to significantly strengthen democracy and political and economic stability in central and east European countries;

IV Calls on the European Union :

38. to ensure that programmes fostering transfrontier co-operation, particularly Interreg, Phare, Tacis and the MED Programme, are consistent with each other, in order to ensure their political and economic effectiveness, and to take appropriate account of maritime frontiers;

39. to attach special importance, when drawing up relevant programmes, to the promotion of transfrontier co-operation and the implementation of joint projects in towns divided by national frontiers which constitute a single urban unit;

40. to develop a coherent and flexible policy for its future external borders in order to ensure that enlargement is not detrimental to transfrontier co-operation and to cooperate with the Council of Europe for this purpose;

V. Calls on the Committee of the Regions of the European Union :

41. to take note of the results of the 7th European Conference of Border Regions and make proposals for strengthening transfrontier co-operation with non-member countries, in particular associate countries which are members of the Council of Europe;

42. to support the recommendations to set up joint projects and activities between the Council of Europe, in particular the Congress, and the European Commission with regard to the spatial planning and development of border regions along its external borders;

43. to help establish Euroregions, especially in central and eastern Europe, through its work programme and specific schemes or by inviting the member states concerned to undertake co-operation in this field;

VI Calls on the OSCE :

44. to encourage its member states to recognise transfrontier co-operation as an important element of co-operation and security in Europe and establish the necessary conditions at national level for its implementation on the basis of permanent co-operation arrangements;

45. to ensure that transfrontier co-operation has a place in the regional strategy for South- Eastern Europe, recognising it as a factor of democratic stability and to co-operate with the Council of Europe in this field;

46. to incorporate the various aspects of transfrontier co-operation in its programme of Economic Forums and co-operate with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe in this field.

Appendix
7th European Conference of Border Regions

Transfrontier Co-operation,

factor of social cohesion and political stability in Europe

Timisoara, Romania (28-30 October 1999)

FINAL DECLARATION

adopted unanimously on 30 October 1999

The participants at the 7th European Conference of Border Regions, local, regional and national elected representatives and representatives of European border regions and their associations,

Express their gratitude to :

— the Council of Europe, and in particular the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) for organising the conference

— the Parliament and Government of Romania, and especially the County of Timis and the City of Timisoara for their hospitality

And adopt the following conclusions :

Having considered the situation of transfrontier co-operation in Europe, and taking into account previous conferences organised by the Council of Europe

Reaffirm :

— the fundamental importance of transfrontier co-operation for the European construction process and for establishing a climate of confidence through tolerance, solidarity, mutual understanding and good-neighbourly relations, particularly in border regions which are home to minorities;

— the crucial role of the Council of Europe in promoting transfrontier co-operation at pan-European level through its fundamental objectives, i.e. democracy, the respect forhuman rights and local and regional self-government, through its technical and legal activities and its European conferences on transfrontier co-operation organised on a regular basis by the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe;

— the role of transfrontier co-operation in promoting and strengthening local and regional democracy in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity;

Welcome :

— the entry into force of the Additional Protocol to the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities in December 1998;

— the adoption of Protocol No. 2 to the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities on inter-territorial co-operation in 1998;

— recognition of the transfrontier co-operation dimension in the draft European Charter of Regional Self-Government drawn up by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, which they wish to see adopted quickly by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe;

Stress :

— the importance of creating new Euroregions in central and eastern Europe and call on local and regional authorities to draw on these experiences for the development of networks and working structures to promote good-neighbourly relations;

— that transfrontier co-operation operates best of all in the day-to-day lives of citizens living on both sides of a frontier, and should be set up between direct neighbours;

— the importance of multilateral structures, such as the Baltic Initiative, and co-operation between the Black Sea and Mediterranean Basins and the Atlantic Arc, in particular with a view to providing them with access to the various means of action of the European institutions;

— the need to supplement European legal provisions with legal progress in the field of transfrontier co-operation in domestic law and to conclude bilateral and multilateral agreements at local, regional and national level;

— the value of the activities carried out by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Advisers, designed to raise awareness of and promote transfrontier co-operation in the countries of central and eastern Europe, and by the intergovernmental structures;

— the impact of the regular meetings of transfrontier co-operation representatives on the legislative and legal levels in member states, particularly in central and eastern Europe;

— the need to continue setting up permanent transfrontier co-operation networks and implement joint projects based on the initiatives taken by responsibles and officials at local and regional levels;

— the vital role of the programmes developed by the European Union (Phare, Tacis, Interreg, Med) in supporting the implementation of transfrontier, inter-regional and transnational projects;

— the need to step up co-operation between the European Union and the Council of Europe in order to develop significantly democracy and political and economic stability in the countries of central and eastern Europe;

— the impact of transfrontier co-operation on the implementation of a transfrontier policy for regional/spatial planning and sustainable development to help create joint sectoral projects, in particular with regard to transport and infrastructures, transfrontier employment catchment areas, joint strategies for tourism, cultural development, education and heritage conservation;

— the activities of associations, in particular the Association of European Border Regions (AERB) and its advisory role for existing and future Euroregions;

— the importance of teaching the languages and cultures of neighbouring countries and regions and the implementation of cultural activities to bring transfrontier populations closer together;

— the particular gravity of the problem of transfrontier co-operation within towns and cities divided by national frontiers, and accordingly request specific support and attention to overcome the obstacles to the mobility of citizens living in the spirit of a common city;

— the role of Local Democracy Agencies (set up under the auspices of the CLRAE) and civil society in promoting transfrontier co-operation in south-east Europe;

Note, however, that there are still legal and administrative obstacles to the movement of persons and goods and the development of transfrontier co-operation, especially in areas where dividing lines exist which are not internationally recognised;

Call on national authorities to :

— sign and/or ratify the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities and its protocols, and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages;

— develop vertical and horizontal partnerships between national, regional and local authorities in order to put in place a concerted strategy for the development of transfrontier co-operation, in application of the principle of subsidiarity;

— associate in particular representatives of national authorities to institutions and to activities concerning transfrontier co-operation between the regions of central and eastern Europe as well as to the activities of the Community of Independent States in order to take into account local and national legal structures;

— eliminate the legal and administrative obstacles which still hamper the general development of transfrontier co-operation, particularly in the field of visas, and ratify the 1957 European Agreement on Regulations governing the Movement of Persons between Member States of the Council of Europe;

— create new frontier crossing points, in view of the increase in socio-economic transfrontier activities, and provide national, local and regional authorities responsible for transfrontier co-operation with the necessary staff to cope with growing needs;

— encourage devolution and provide local and regional authorities with effective powers to exercise at transfrontier level in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity and the provisions contained in the Additional Protocols to the Outline Convention;

— promote the teaching of the languages of neighbouring countries/regions with appropriate financial resources;

— promote transfrontier co-operation as a means of furthering economic development and networking small and medium-sized enterprises, chambers of commerce and industry, universities, non-governmental organisations and representatives of civil society;

— encourage the setting up of transfrontier working structures through the funding of training programmes for local elected representatives and administrators and exchanges of experts;

Request the Council of Europe to lend assistance to national authorities by means of technical measures and to encourage its member states to develop transfrontier co-operation programmes; accordingly, the financial resources made available to the Council of Europe should be increased, if necessary by means of voluntary contributions;

Invite

The European Union

— to ensure the compatibility of programmes fostering transfrontier co-operation, particularly Interreg, Phare, Tacis and the MED Programme, in order to guarantee their political and economic efficiency, and to take into account appropriately maritime frontiers;

— to attach special importance, when drawing up its relevant programmes, to the promotion of transfrontier co-operation and the implementation of joint projects in towns divided by national frontiers which constitute a single urban unit;

— to develop a coherent and flexible policy for its future external borders in order to insure that enlargement does not damage transfrontier co-operation and in doing so to collaborate with the Council of Europe;

The OSCE

— to ensure that the subject of transfrontier co-operation is included in the Charter for European Security which is currently under preparation;

The Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

— to pursue and intensify their support to transfrontier co-operation and the exchange of competencies and information in this area;

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

— to take stock of progress in implementing the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities, twenty years after its adoption, and to organise a conference on the findings;

— to invite the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning to intensify the role of transfrontier co-operation in the guiding principles which will be submitted at their next session scheduled for September 2000 in Hanover;

— to adopt the CLRAE draft European Charter of Regional Self-Government with a view to promoting the devolution of powers towards the regions, in application of the principle of subsidiarity;

— to examine, with the view to its adoption, the draft European Charter on Mountain Regions in order to implement a co-ordinated and sustainable development policy on mountains at regional, national and European level;

— to promote co-operation activities in European frontier areas currently beset by serious problems and, in this connection, to devote particular attention to the Caucasian countries and the eastern frontier of Moldova;

— to promote the drawing up of multilateral agreements in response to specific problems of certain regions, such as the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins, the Danube and the Baltic Sea basins and the Carpathians;

— to support transfrontier projects designed to promote and strengthen tolerance, solidarity, confidence, mutual understanding and good-neighbourly relations through its Confidence-building measures Programme

With regard to South-Eastern Europe, the participants:

— consider that transfrontier and inter-territorial co-operation forms an essential element of the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe since, according to the Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe at the Vienna Summit in 1993, the creation of a tolerant and prosperous Europe also requires transfrontier co-operation between local and regional authorities;

— welcome the fact that the Council of Europe's proposal to include transfrontier co-operation in Working Table No. 1 has been accepted, and that the Council of Europe will be the leader both in this sector and in other sectors such as local democracy and human rights;

— believe that transfrontier co-operation in South-Eastern Europe cannot develop solely on a bilateral level but must also be dealt with in a multilateral framework involving the countries which make up that part of Europe;

— therefore consider it appropriate to enter into negotiations, as part of the Stability Pact, with a view to preparing a multilateral agreement between the countries of South-Eastern Europe on transfrontier and inter-territorial co-operation between local and regional authorities;

Finally, the participants take note of the invitation to organise the next meeting on transfrontier co-operation in Edirne (Turkey).

1 Debated and approved by the Chamber of Regions on 24 May 2000 and adopted by the Standing Committee of the Congress on 25 May 2000 (see Doc. CPR (7) 6, draft recommendation, presented by Mr V. Coifan, rapporteur).

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