Brussels, 5 July 2006
"Key role for border regions in the EU jobs and growth strategy", Danuta Hübner tells Saarbrücken conference
Regional policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner outlined today in Saarbrücken, Germany, how cross-border co-operation can help border regions tackle the challenges they may face and deliver more growth and quality employment. The Commissioner delivered her key note speech on the conference "The future of border regions in Europe", attended by about 150 participants from border regions across Europe. The conference is organised by the Minister-President of the Land of Saarland, Peter Müller while German Federal Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble and heads of border regions featured among the speakers.
"Now that borders within the EU have become less visible, border regions still play a crucial role. This time though their role is to link countries and bring people together, to develop innovative solutions to economic and social development issues, to push Europe ahead. Nowadays border regions are very often at the forefront of advances in integration and co-operation", said Danuta Hübner in her speech inviting the conference participants to apply an even more strategic approach to cross-border co-operation in future.
The Commissioner presented the framework called European Grouping of Territorial Co-operation (EGCT), which is part of the new Structural Funds regulation that Member States recently agreed to. The new rules to be applied in the new programming period 2007-2013 offer regional and local authorities the option of creating a cross-border grouping with legal personality. That grouping can be established directly without the need for a bilateral legal treaty between the Member States concerned. The underlying principle of the EGCT is to prevent any form of discrimination because of the existence of a border – co-operation between two authorities on either side of a border should be just as possible as between two authorities in the same country.
Border regions are often peripheral within their own country, far from the capital city and from economic development poles. Transport solutions are often created with the aim of getting across border regions, rather than linking them with other parts of the country, or with their neighbours. These elements can have a negative effect on the economic development of border regions. Given the different legal environment, the different administrative culture and very often a different language area, cooperation across borders can be a challenge.
Therefore, the INTERREG (Interregional cooperation) Community Initiative was set up as far back as 1990. Cross-border co-operation programmes are now operating in every part of Europe and the Commission has observed a huge upsurge in interest in Member States and in neighbouring countries. The content of programmes is becoming more sophisticated, frequently addressing issues such as cross-border workers, and social and health care. Very practical topics are covered too – fire brigade and ambulance co-operation, co-ordination of public transport services, co-ordination of on-call doctors. Often the projects can be quite small, but difficult to set in motion and the INTERREG programmes and the financing they provide act as a catalyst to address this.
In the next programme period 2007-2013, co-operation has obtained the status as one of three Regional Policy objectives replacing the “Interreg Initiative”. The strong political support for European Territorial Co-operation in the period 2007-2013 is demonstrated by the increase in funding to EUR 7.75 billion compared to EUR 5.78 billion in the period 2000-2006.
Further information about "Interreg III – interregional cooperation" available at:
Please visit "Inforegio", the European Commission regional policy website, at: