REGI Action Plan

Motion for an Action Plan by the Committee on Regional Development

Collaboration despite differences: In the EU, cross-border regions such as the Rhine-Meuse-North Euregio are witness to some of the most dynamic exchanges of people, knowledge, services, and goods, actively redefining the meaning of borders and of the nation itself. This regional and local cooperation is often a grassroots effort, a spontaneous action happening individual of capitals’ control. How can the EU improve its collaboration as a union of states through the model of regional border cooperation?

Submitted by: Magnus Andersson (SE), Amélie Beenhakkers (NL), Epifanios Evangelou (CY), Mikaella Hadjisavva (CY), Aurora Lubini (IT), Timin Mahajan (NL), Kateřina Matoušová (CZ), Renata Sarre (PL), Elisabeth Vascotto (IT), Nadya de Vlieger (NL); Amanda Häkkinen (Chairperson, FI)

Context

European cross-border regions, or Euroregions, are a defining feature of European geography as they make up 40% of the EU territory and host 30% of the population. Despite their potential for furthering European integration, cross-border cooperation is hindered by a plethora of social, cultural, economic, administrative, and linguistic barriers between adjacent Member States. Moreover, although cross-border regions contribute to 30% of the Union’s GDP, they typically lag behind in development as the citizens of these areas lack access to healthcare, public transportation, education, and employment. 

The European Youth Parliament recommends taking the following actions on the

Individual and local level 

  1. Appeals to the Member States’ local governments and municipalities to provide subsidies to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for hiring bilingual staff in cross-border regions;
  2. Urges the European Research Council (ERC) to fund projects in research institutes located in border regions with the aim of responding to common challenges, such as
    1. environmental changes,
    2. public health threats,
    3. transportation, 
    4. digitalisation; 
  3. Requests European Commission’s Interreg A -section of the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programme to create a mechanism used to assess the comparability of educational and professional qualifications obtained in a neighbouring country, in accordance with the European Qualifications Framework (EQF);
  4. Suggests universities located in cross-border regions, in cooperation with Member States’ Ministries of Education, to organise:
    1. exchange programmes with educational institutions from bordering countries,
    2. joint courses with bordering countries;
  5. Encourages the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to reallocate funding for translating professional and educational qualifications in Member States’ local administration; 
  6. Invites Eurodesk to organise a media campaign and workshops on cross-border opportunities for municipalities and public services;
  7. Instructs Euroregions to organise free language classes for people from cross-border regions in cooperation with the European Language Equality Network (ELEN) starting in 2022;

National 

  1. Strongly encourages the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) to introduce a centralised scheme for public transportation companies operating in Euroregions with combined timetables and a coordinated ticketing system by 2023; 
  2. Strongly urges Member States’ Ministries of Employment to ensure cross-border workers receive necessary taxation information on time by appointing a group of social and tax workers to this task; 
  3. Asks Member States to create common legislation which allows for medical, police, and firefighting personnel to smoothly travel across borders in case of emergency in all Euroregions by 2025;
  4. Strongly requests Member States to: 
    1. reallocate funds received from the Recovery and Resilience Facility to provide Euroregions with rapid COVID-19 tests for citizens of cross-border regions,
    2. coordinate the distribution of these tests in cross-border areas; 
  5. Proposes Member States to form bi- and multilateral agreements on social security policy, whereby cross-border workers:
    1. are entitled to rehabilitation in the case of a work-related incident in another country,
    2. obtain pension in the country they work in,
    3. receive unemployment benefits;
  6. Further invites Member States’ Ministries of Health to share resources by: 
    1. introducing mobile hospitals in cross-border regions in emergency situations,
    2. assisting with COVID-19 patients and other patients who need immediate help,
    3. establishing healthcare cooperation zones in cross-border regions where people can receive treatment across the border;

European level

  1. Designates the ERDF to provide monetary support to launch school- and hospital building programmes within Euroregions starting with the budgetary period of 2021-2027;
  2. Calls upon the European Commission to direct funding starting with the budgetary period of 2021-2027 to the developing green public transportation systems in Euroregions;
  3. Welcomes the pan-European use of the Europass system by the beginning of the 2022-2023 academic year. 

Main aims

Our mission is to highlight the crucial role cross-border regions play in furthering European integration by releasing their full potential for spontaneous territorial cooperation, social cohesion, and regional innovation. Our goal is to facilitate a dynamic exchange of goods, people, services, funds, and culture in cross-border regions by introducing bi- and multilateral social security agreements, more efficient recognition of professional and educational qualifications obtained in a neighbouring country and reallocating further funding to public transportation in often peripherally located cross-border areas. Moreover, we aim to improve the quality of life in border regions by ensuring access to quick help in case of an emergency, whether it be medical, firefighting or police intervention by providing borderless movement. Lastly, we wish to fight discrimination and bring people in cross-border areas closer to one another socially and linguistically by introducing joint university programmes, research projects, and language classes.