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Regional Policy helps local people find solutions through European Territorial Cooperation

(20-05-2014)

Regional Policy helps local people find solutions through European Territorial Cooperation

Managing Authorities of the European Territorial Cooperation Programmes met yesterday and today with individuals who benefitted from EU funded projects to share their experiences of how EU cross-border projects have helped to tackle challenges like brain drain, security, health, unemployment and lack of educational qualifications.

Speaking ahead of the annual meeting, Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn said: "Territorial cooperation is at the very heart of the European ideal. These sorts of projects show Europe in action, not just between governments but cooperating at the most local level. We should bear this in mind as we prepare to vote in the European elections. This is a concrete example of what Europe is doing for its citizens – whether in the area of health, security, education or preserving our traditions and culture. European territorial cooperation is about building trust, sometimes between neighbours that were once enemies, bringing people together in their daily lives and ensuring that shared problems are solved together.

He added, "Another important element of these projects has been the part they have played in integrating the EU's newer Member States. As the external borders of the EU are constantly evolving, cooperation with the non-EU neighbouring countries has played and continues to play a crucial role in the enlargement process and the creation of stronger links for further integration, such as with the Balkans."

4 flagship cross-border regional projects projects were presented:

The "Greater Region University" project – BE/DE/FR/LUX

While public spending in higher education is being cut in many Member States,. Six universities (Universität des Saarlandes, Université de Liège, Université du Luxembourg, Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, Universität Trier, Université de Lorraine) from four neighbouring countries joined forces to maintain excellence in academic and research standards for their over 125 000 students and 6 500 researchers and lecturers. This cooperation has increased cross-border mobility connecting students and researchers, and will further develop the Greater Region into a motor of economic growth.

The "De-mine" project – HU/HR

Life threatening land mines along the Croatia‑Hungarian border during the 1990s conflict in former Yugoslavia were uncovered in 2011. The Hungarian authorities declared some of the border area an off-bounds danger site. EU funds have helped remove the mines protecting the population and clearing the way for many cross-border "Natura2000" conservation areas boosting sustainable tourism. The project is part of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR).

"Telediag" project – RO/SR

Supported by EU investments, health institutions in Romania and Serbia are now among the top medical centres of worldwide telemedicine. The project involves sharing a unique telemedicine system, allowing their doctors to use innovative e-information technologies to provide long-distance health care for patients. This has reduced medical costs, provided for better, faster and safer diagnostics, with a real improvement in health care services on the Romanian-Serbian border.

"Academy of Crafts projects – SI/HU

A threat to the long-standing crafts tradition in this part of Slovenia and Hungary prompted this project. Fewer people were following professional training, forcing some arts and crafts schools to close down. The "Academy of Crafts" project, has helped reverse the creating new opportunities for young people and preserving this cultural heritage. Some 1,000 entrepreneurs took part in this project.

video contest "Border issues, Border solutions" was also launched at this event to highlight the results and benefits of regional cooperation. The winners will be announced during the European Cooperation Days mid-September in Milan (Italy). 

European Territorial Cooperation Annual Meeting 2014