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    Confident European with a deep regional anchorage

    Franz Schausberger congratulates Manfred Weber on the election of the
    EPP lead candidate for the 2019 European elections:
    It is gratifying that with Manfred Weber a convinced European, deeply rooted in his regional level, the Free State of Bavaria, was voted the EPP’s lead candidate for the 2019 European elections, said IRE Chariman Franz Schausberger, who is also EPP vice-president in the European Committee of the Regions. Schausberger congratulated Weber on the clear approval of around 80 percent of the delegates.
     
    Schausberger emphasized that Weber, because of his successful work as Chairman of the EPP Group, knew not only the European level but also, as a former member of the district council of Kelheim and the Bavarian state parliament, the importance of the regional level. In the future, it would be particularly important for the European Union to involve the regions, cities and municipalities more closely in European politics.
     
    Manfred Weber in Salzburg
    Schausberger referred to Manfred Weber’s speech on 3rd of May 2018 about the regions and subsidiarity. Weber among other things had explained:
    • “Europe is not built only on strong nations. Europe is also rooted in every region.”
    • “When we talk about Europe, we talk a lot about identity. Much of this European identity is being shaped in the regions.”
    • “Europe is deeply rooted in its regions. Without its regions, Europe would be homeless. It is about feelings, about community, about participation and responsibility – all this we can learn in our regions. Without these communities, without its regions, Europe would break.”
    • “The relationship between Europe and its regions is also a mutual love story. Europe is becoming down to earth through the regions. And the regions can only take off through Europe.”
    • “Europe means bringing the peripheral regions to the center. Countless potential in the regions would be wasted if it were not for the unifying band of Europe. Europe is creating a network of regions that brings together the regions. Only through Europe can the regions develop together.”
    • “For me, subsidiarity also means that each level takes responsibility for the decisions it has made. Let us live subsidiarity in Europe – at all levels! “
    • “Let the regions be the hearts of our European democracy. Being close to people means being close to the regions.”
    • “I am a proud Bavarian. Germany is my fatherland. And I am a convinced European. These three elements are inseparable. Europe has only a future when it comes to its roots. Let us therefore preserve the regions in the heart of Europe! “ 

     Source: Phoenix

    IRE-Advisory Board member Prof. Jovičić is new Ambassador for Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations, OSCE and IAEA in Vienna

    Prof. Jugoslav Jovičić visited the Institute of European Regions (IRE) in Salzburg on Wednesday, 31st of October 2018. He has been the new Ambassador for Bosnia and Herzegovina since 4th of October 2018 to the Permanent Mission to the United Nations, the OSCE and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria.
    Prof. Jovičić has been a member of the IRE Advisory Board for many years and numerous joint projects, co-operations and new initiatives have been successfully implemented. The cooperation between Ambassador Jugoslav Jovičić and the IRE will continue in the future.

    For December 2018 a conference is planned together with the Croatian Institute for Migration in Zagreb. In 2019, initiatives will be implemented in the area of EU integration of the Western Balkan countries, the strengthening of rural areas and the development of smart communities.
     


    Franz Schausberger with Jugoslav Jovičić

    CDU and SPD lose a lot – black-green can narrowly defend the majority

    Landtag election 2018 in Hesse:
     
    The voters have punished the Union and SPD at the Landtag election in Hesse on Sunday, 29th of October 2018. The Greens increase, the AfD makes it into the Landtag (state parliament). Black-green can continue to govern with a thin majority. However, the two-party alliance would have only one seat more than the opposition in the state parliament. Other constellations are still possible.

    In the state election in Hesse CDU and SPD lost dramatically in votes. Beneficiaries are once again the Greens, who were able to collect the best election results in their history in Hesse. Left and FDP made it clear into the state legislature. The AfD could more than double its election result.
     

    Despite the huge losses, the CDU on Sunday was clearly with 27.0 percent of the votes the strongest force. The SPD plunged to 19.8 percent and is thus on a par with the Greens, which also increased to 19.8 percent. The AfD moved with 13.1 percent for the first time in the Hessian state parliament and henceforth represented in all 16 state parliaments. The FDP came to 7.5 percent, the Left to 6.3 percent.

    The Hessian state parliament will have in the future, because of numerous overhang and balancing mandates, 137 delegates. So far it was 110. The CDU has in the future 40 seats, the previous coalition partner Greens and the SPD 29 seats each. The AfD reaches 19 seats, the FDP 11, the Left 9. Thus, the CDU and Greens would come up with the necessary majority in order to continue their alliance.

    Volker Bouffier (CDU) announced talks with all parties except Left and AfD about a government coalition. He had recently revealed open for Jamaica alliance, the Greens were more reserved, the Liberals advertised openly. Green and FDP in Hesse, however, have among other things, in energy policy and organic farming differences.
     
    Four coalitions in Hessen conceivable – even one without the CDU
    In addition to the previous black-green state government in Hesse, according to the preliminary official final result, three more coalitions arithmetically are possible. While the CDU and the Greens are only able to achieve a slim lead of 69 to 68 seats in the future Hessian state parliament, a Jamaican coalition of CDU, Greens and FDP would have a comfortable majority of 80 out of 137 seats. Also possible would be a grand coalition of CDU and SPD, which would also put the black-green alliance to 69 mandates. Even a government without the CDU is theoretically possible if the SPD, Greens and FDP would merge into a traffic light coalition. They also comprise 69 members.

    The parties have no time pressure to forge a government alliance. The electoral term of the previous state parliament ends on 17th of January 2019, one day later, according to the state constitution, the new state parliament meets for its first meeting. Usually, the deputies then vote for the Minister President. If they are unable to do so because of the lack of majorities, the previous state government will continue “the day-to-day business”, as determined by the constitution. The government would consequently only executive in office.
     


    Tarek Al-Wazir (Greens) and Minister President of Hesse Volker Bouffier (CDU)

     

    Great federal impact
    The elections in Hesse also had an enormous significance for the federal state.
    At the federal level, the party leaders of the CDU and SPD, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Andrea Nahles, come under pressure after the second election defeat within two weeks. It is rumbling in both parties.
    Researchers were responsible for the collapse of the CDU and SPD, above all, national political reasons. According to an analysis by the Election Research Group, local parties were unable to convince them of any political, top-level or technical skills. According to Infratest dimap, the CDU lost many votes, especially to the previous Green coalition partners.
     
    Frankfurt on the Main
    Frankfurt has turned green in the Landtag elections. The Greens come to 26.1 percent and are thus the strongest force in the city. The CDU achieves 22.8 percent. The SPD is with 18.4 percent in third place. The Left gets 10.5 percent of the votes, the FDP 8.1 percent and the AfD 9 percent.

     
    Source: Wikipedia, T-online.de


    Landtag election in South Tyrol: SVP loses, victory for Köllensperger, Freedom party plummets

    The South Tyrolean state election ended on Sunday 21st of October 2018 with a slightly lower turnout (73.9 percent) than five years ago (77.7 percent). 417,968 eligible voters have tuned 35 members in the South Tyrolean state parliament.

    The South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP) under Governor Arno Kompatscher has suffered losses. The ruling party since 1948 reached 41.9 percent of the vote, which means a minus of 3.8 percentage points comparing to 2013. Gained in 2013 45.7 percent of the votes and received hence 17 seats, the party will obtain in the future 15 of the 35 seats.
     


    South Tyrolean governor Kompatscher and Tyrolean governor Platter

    The South Tyrolean entrepreneur Paul Köllensperger caused a surprise with his list of the same name, which garnered 15.2 percent of the vote and thus reached second place. The movement of the former five-star member of the Landtag, which was founded a few months ago, will in future be represented by six mandatories.

    The right-wing alloy of Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who landed in third place with 11.1 percent and four mandates, was able to gain ground. The Freedom lost two thirds of the votes. They plunged from 17.9 percent to 6.2 percent, losing nearly two-thirds of their voters.
     

    “We will now be in ‘orientation talks’ with other parties and then let the party committees decide with whom there should be concrete negotiations,” said the SVP.

     

    BOLZANO

    MERAN

     
    Source: APA/EXPA/Grode, Wikipedia, Tiroler Tageszeitung, Presse

    Franz Schausberger met the representatives of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina at a traditional reception in Brussels

    “Vojvodina, Great for Business, Great for Life“:
    Within the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities, AP Vojvodina hosted the traditional reception on 8th October 2018, whose guest was David McAllister, EU Parliament’s rapporteur, Franz Schausberger, Chairman of the CoR-Working Group Western Balkans, Ana Hrustanović, Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union, moreover MEPs, representatives of EU institutions, a number of regions and cities, as well as the business community.
     
    The hosts of the event, which took place at  the Mission of the Republic of Serbia to the EU, were Đorđe Milićević, Vice-president of the Provincial Government, István Pásztor, President of AP Vojvodina Parliament, and Ognjen Bjelić, Provincial Minister for Regional Development, Interregional Cooperation and Local Self-Government. The event “Vojvodina, Great for Business, Great for Life“,  was organized by the European Affairs Fund of AP Vojvodina and the Vojvodina European Office in Brussels, with the support of the Vojvodina Development Agency.
     
    Đorđe Milićević, Vice-president of the Provincial Government, emphasized that Vojvodina had made an excellent step, and that the presence of a large number of officials from European institutions testified that Serbia and Vojvodina were on the right track and that the reforms implemented in Serbia were successful. “I believe that we’ve managed to present all the potentials, of which there are a lot, in the best way possible, and tonight’s reception shows that the reputation of Serbia and its province of Vojvodina is high,” said Vice-president Milićević.
     
    István Pásztor, President of the Assembly of AP Vojvodina, underlined that Vojvodina had a lot of friends among the European regions and that it was of common interest to build partnerships and trustworthy relationships. He added that common ideas related to joint projects allowed European regions to progress.
     
    An agreement on cooperation between the Vojvodina Chamber of Commerce and the Walloon Union of Companies has been signed in Brussels at the Mission of the Republic of Serbia
     
     
    From left ro right: Christoph Stodola (EU Liaison Office of the Province of Salzburg), Franz Schausberger (IRE-Chairman), Ognjen Bjelić (Provincial Minister for Regional Development), Đorđe Milićević (Vice-President of the Provincial Parliament Vojvodina), István Pásztor (President of the Provincial Parliament Vojvodina)

    On the credibility of the EU: Quickly and specifically implement proposals from the Task Force on Subsidiarity!

    Franz Schausberger in the European Committee of the Regions (CoR):

    It is essential for the credibility of the EU to rapidly and effectively implement the proposals of the EU’s “Subsidiarity” Task Force. People do not want more than absolutely necessary to be decided in Brussels. The regions, cities and municipalities must play a more important role in the EU of the future, said the representative of the Land Salzburg in the CoR and IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger in the plenary session in Brussels on the 9th of October 2018.

    In 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon formally strengthened the subsidiarity principle, as well as the regions and local authorities, but in reality the development has been quite different. Over the last ten years, many European countries have been centralized and not decentralized, the EU’s regulatory density and bureaucracy have increased enormously, and the opportunities created by the early warning system and the subsidiarity case have hardly been used in practice, Schausberger noted.

    Now, the Task Force on Subsidiarity has been set up, involving the European Commission, national parliaments and the CoR. The European Parliament unreasonably refused to participate. Unfortunately, after presenting the report of the Task Force with concrete proposals to the President of the European Commission, in his annual speech to the European Union, he did not mention this topic at all. In order to give the EU more credibility, it was therefore urgently necessary to implement the proposals of the Task Force as quickly and concretely as possible, demanded Schausberger. It is not enough to confess to the principle of subsidiarity in Sunday speeches, without taking measures for concrete implementation.
     


    Franz Schausberger with the Vice-President of Sicily, Gaetano Armao in the plenary session of the Committee of the Regions in Brussels. Both are also Vice Presidents of the EPP in the CoR
     

    IRE conference on common Central European cultural heritage planned 2019 in Arad

    IRE-Chairman Franz Schausberger in Arad/Romania:
    Franz Schausberger met on 5th of October 2018 with the President of the Arad County Council, Justin Cionca, for a detailed conversation. The main topics discussed were the intensification of cooperation between the Arad district and the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE). Arad has been a member of the IRE for many years, having held several events in Arad. It was agreed to hold a conference in Arad in 2019, which will focus on the restoration of the important cultural heritage and its tourist use in Arad and its neighbouring regions. It is about the common Central European heritage, especially from the time of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Arad County is planning closer cooperation with neighbouring regions in Hungary and Serbia, as well as neighbouring regions in Romania, as part of an “Activarium” platform. However, this would require greater financial autonomy of the regions.
     

    Justin Cionca and Franz Schausberger
     
     
    EU funding has enabled many important projects in Arad
     
    Issues of European values, mobility within the EU, the education system, EU support for the regions, decentralization and much more were the focus of a European People’s Party (EPP) Local Dialogue in Arad City Hall (Romania) on the 5th of October 2018. The large numbers of students present were highly interested in the question of study opportunities in other EU countries and which education system would offer them the best career opportunities. Schausberger pointed out that the education system had to orient itself above all to the needs of the economy and administration of the region. There was particular interest in the ERASMUS program and internships abroad. The political representatives of the National Liberal Party, notably Gheorghe Falcă, Mayor of Arad, and Justin Cionca, President of Arad County Council, pointed out that decentralization is not only between the EU and its Member States, but also within the states must be done. Above all, a fair financial decentralization is important, since in Romania, the distribution of funds is currently taking place, especially on the part of political parties. However, Arad’s politicians highlighted the huge financial support from the EU funds that made possible the renovation of important cultural monuments and cultural facilities, such as the Concert Hall and Moise Nicoara College.
     
     Source: IRE

    Centralism increases emigration from rural areas

    Federal Minister Heinz Faßmann visited the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE):

    Strongly centrally organized countries have much more problems with the migration of the population from rural areas and border areas as decentralized or federal states, said the Austrian Federal Minister of Education, Science and Research, Heinz Faßmann on the occasion of a visit to the Institute of the Regions of Europe on 17th of September 2018. Faßmann, himself University Professor of Applied Geography, Spatial Research and Regional Planning, has been confirmed by several scientific projects in the Danube region. He cited Serbia as a special example, a highly centralized country where migration from rural areas to the central region of Belgrade or even abroad is particularly serious. It shows – so Faßmann – that there is a direct connection between centralism and regional disparities. Decentralization and sensible dismantling of centralization measures in the periphery would therefore make sense in terms of regional policy, explained Minister Faßmann.

    The chairman of the IRE, Franz Schausberger, pointed out that in a federal state, political leaders in the regions felt obliged to create liveable conditions for the people in the remote rural areas. After all, they wanted to be re-elected in the next regional elections. Key requirements included good transport links and an excellent supply of fast broadband connections.

    Federal Minister Faßmann welcomed the numerous activities of the IRE on the subject of rural depopulation with the aim of providing solutions for particularly affected regions.


    Federal Minister Heinz Faßmann with IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger

    Infrastructure and traffic are the main challenges for Smart Regions

    Provincial Councilor Stefan Schnöll visited the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE):

    Smart Regions is not only about solving the difficult traffic problems of the provincial capital and its surrounding communities, but also about mobility in the district capitals, such as Zell am See or St. Johann in Salzburg, explained the Salzburg provincial council Mag. Stefan Schnöll during a working visit to the Institute of the Regions of Europe on 18th of September 2018. The government member responsible for transport and infrastructure in the Salzburg state government emphasized that in his work he relied heavily on experts and best practice examples from other European regions. He therefore highly appreciates the work of the IRE because, at its specialist conferences, it always endeavours to promote the exchange of know-how and experience among the various regions on various essential topics in the regions.

    IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger pointed out that it is precisely to promote the creation of good transport infrastructure and public transport to remote regions that are able to largely stem the outflow from rural peripheral areas which can be observed throughout Europe.
     

    Provincial Councilor Stefan Schnöll and IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger

    State Secretary Edtstadler in Kosovo: Full support in the fight against corruption

    Focal points: stability and security in the region, further progress in the fight against corruption and strengthening the role of women in society:

    Two politicians from Salzburg for Europe and Austria in Kosovo 

    The Secretary of State at the Ministry of the Interior, Mag. Karoline Edtstadler, visited on 4 and 5 September 2018, together with the Special Adviser of the European Commission for the EU enlargement countries Franz Schausberger, Kosovo. The purpose of this working visit was to strengthen security and stability in the region and to assist the Republic of Kosovo in the fight against corruption. “Corruption can erode a state and jeopardize it in the long term. The fight against corruption is also crucial for Kosovo in terms of the EU integration process. Austria would like to help with their expertise in order to make further progress”, said Edtstadler in an interview with the Kosovar Minister of the Interior, Bejtush Gashi, as well as during her visit to the Agency for Combating and Preventing Corruption. In this context, the State Secretary also referred to the planned study visit by a Kosovo delegation on combating corruption from 11 to 12 September 2018 in Vienna.
     

    Franz Schausberger, Karoline Edtstadler and Minister of Interior Bejtush Gashi 

    In addition to a visit to the Serbian Orthodox monastery church in Gracanica, a visit to the Jahjaga Foundation (founded by the former Kosovar President Atifete Jahjaga) and the Kosovo Women Network was also part of the State Secretary’s program. Both organizations are committed to strengthening the role of women in society. “The Kosovo Women Network and the Jahjaga Foundation are doing valuable work to boost women’s self-esteem. That is also a big concern for me. As part of the Task Force on Criminal Law, I want to support women who are victims of violent and sexual offenses, so they dare to file complaints and turn to victim protection institutions”, said the State Secretary.

    Edtstadler and Schausberger also met Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister Enver Hoxhaj and discussed the current situation surrounding the negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo. Hoxhaj and Schausberger agreed that the ultimate goal must be to reach a legally binding, sustainable agreement between Serbia and Kosovo as soon as possible. This is crucial not only for the Western Balkans, but for peace throughout Europe.
     

    Franz Schausberger, Karoline Edtstadler, Deputy Minister Enver Hoxhaj and Austrian Ambassador Gernot Pfandler

    As Kosovar Interior Minister Gashi emphasized, 90 percent of Kosovars who emigrated to Western Europe in 2014/15 have since returned to Kosovo. Cooperations with 22 countries and its own “returnees program” would have contributed to that. A third of the Kosovars already live legally in Western Europe since the years after the war on the Western Balkans.

    Kosovo is also involved in the Task Force on the fight against smuggling.

    Franz Schausberger plans action “Mayors help mayors”: counteract the rural depopulation!

    As a special advisor to the European Commission for the Western Balkans, Franz Schausberger completed his own visit program to find out more about the situation of the communities in Kosovo. He completed a “ministerial marathon”: Mahir Yagcillar, Minister of Public Administration, Rasim Demiri, Minister of Rural Development, Rozafa Ukimeraj, Secretary General of the Ministry of Local Government, and Agim Veliu, President of the Municipal Union of Kosovo. “Without efficient and democratically led communities, people in their homeland will not want to see a future and emigrate”, said Schausberger. The rural depopulation to the cities or abroad can only be counteracted by strengthening rural communities. In Kosovo, there are only 38 municipalities, which means that they are much too large and the proximity to the local representatives is not nearly as big as in Austria. Moreover, the problem of the four Serbian communities in northern Kosovo is completely unresolved.
     

    Minister of Public Administration Mahir Yagcilar and Franz Schausberger

    To fulfil the conditions of Kosovo on the way to a common Europe, the municipalities play an important role. However, they can only fulfil conditions if they have the necessary capacities and know-how. In the communities of Kosovo, there is a lack of professionalism, experience and knowledge, which makes a community work well, said Schausberger.

    The municipal administrations are sometimes far from the European standard. The use of financial resources alone is not a sustainable solution unless local politicians and local government officials have the necessary knowledge and experience of a well-functioning community and proper local policies.

    He therefore intends to launch an action “Mayors help mayors” through his Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE), which is not about profit, but about knowledge transfer and exchange of experience, explained Schausberger. He wants to find mayors of Salzburg’s municipalities who are willing to invite mayors from the Western Balkans to show them well-functioning local governments using the example of their own community.

    Copyright © 2018 Institute of the Regions of Europe