The Euroregions, although still little known at the citizen level, are very useful instruments for economic, cultural, institutional cooperation and mobility between cross-border areas of the European Union. To find out more about them, the October edition of Café Europa has been dedicated to European cross-border policy and action and has had the participation of Xavier Beranrd Sans, Director General of the Euroregion Pyrenees Mediterranean and Florence Jacquey, manager of the secretariat of the Greater Region Summit.
The need to manage cross-border spaces became even more apparent with the Covid-19 crisis and the closure of borders between the states of the Union. Florence Jacquey explained that this Euroregion records more than 250,000 daily border crossings for work reasons, 80% of which go to Luxembourg. The first border closure, therefore, alerted the 3 states that make up the Grande Région - France, Germany and Luxembourg -, which noted the importance of keeping the borders open in successive confinements. The case of Luxembourg, moreover, was especially dramatic, as 60% of health personnel reside in France. According to Jacquey, the Covid-19 crisis led to "a strengthening of cooperation in the Euroregion".
"The Covid crisis has changed the governance and economic model," said Xavier Bernard. The great challenge for the Euroregions, said Bernard Sans, is to go beyond cross-border cooperation, "the aim is for companies and citizens to be able to create projects at European level".
In order to strengthen cooperation structures, Jacquey was in favor of the application of the European Cross Border Mechanism (ECBM) which would extend the right of a Union state to a neighboring state, with the aim of to speed up the execution of a specific project. This mechanism, however, has not had the approval of the Council of the Union, which has stopped the proposal of Luxembourg with the opposite vote of Spain, among others.
The fact is, however, that Euroregions are increasingly understood as a tool for managing cross-border areas, especially those with significant flows of human traffic. Bernard Sans also considered that for the actions of the Euroregions to be even more effective, closer cooperation would be needed with the municipalities. "One of the challenges of the Euroregion is to work more and more with the cities, beyond the specific projects that are already being carried out," said the director of the Euroregion.
Cafè Europa is an initiative from the Catalunya Europa Foundation and Horitzó Europa.