Practical Approaches Towards Effective European Transfrontier Co-operation

The City of Maastricht, the Province of Limburg and the Associations of Netherlands Municipalities in co-operation with the Netherlands Ministries for the Interior and Foreign Affairs and the Council of Europe, are organizing  a conference on practical approaches towards effective European transfrontier co-operation. The conference will take place on the 6th and 7th of July 2009 in the city of Maastricht.

Goal of the Conference
The goal of the conference is twofold. Firstly, it aims to ascertain the factors that enhance or hinder transfrontier co-operation throughout Europe. The results of the conference will provide elements for the discussion on transfrontier co-operation during the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government in Utrecht in November. The conclusions of the conference will not only inform the Utrecht Ministerial Conference’s discussions on this issue but also the future work of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, in particular the work of its Working Group on Inter-regional Co-operation in the field of transfrontier co-operation.

Secondly, the conference will provide a forum for discussion for local and regional authorities and other actors in the field in which to exchange information and expertise, to identify best practices and to discuss practical tools for furthering transfrontier co-operation.

Cross-border movements of all types are ever-increasing as a result of European integration and internationalisation. Many local and regional authorities, as well as citizens in these border regions, are discovering daily that their location on the border with a neighbouring country is linked not only to opportunities but also to stumbling blocks. This is true for people who work, live and go to school across the border, to economic activity, environmental issues, police cooperation, contingency planning, public transport links, provision of health services and so on.

This proximity necessitates good administrative co-operation between local and regional authorities across borders and a sound legal basis for this co-operation. One of the most widely used forms of transfrontier co-operative arrangement is that of the euroregion in which local and regional authorities on either side of the border work together according to public or private law formats. However, such bodies are not well known yet to citizens, which also leads to questions concerning their legitimacy and base of support. 

In order to facilitate further euroregional co-operation, the Council of Europe's Committee on Local and Regional Democracy (CDLR) is currently drafting a Third Protocol to the Madrid Outline Convention* on Euroregional Co-operation Groupings.  This protocol aims to provide the basic legal provisions which will govern the capacity and setting up of such Groupings. Depending on progress made on the draft text, the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Local and Regional Government which will take place in November in The Netherlands could be a good opportunity to open the Third Protocol for signature and ratification by member states of the Council of Europe thus enabling the ministers to avail themselves of the opportunity to sign the agreement during the session.

* Council of Europe European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities