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    10 November 2016: Green Mobility – Green Cities, Ljubljana (Slovenia)

    Bildergebnis für wappen ljubljana

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    Bildergebnis für ljubljana european green capital

    5th IRE Expert Conference

    Master Mobility Plan for Green Cities


    Sustainable and Interconnected Cities in Europe

    on 10th November 2016

    Castel of Ljubljana

    Ljubljanski Grad, Grajska planota 1

    1001 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    From 9:00 – 16:00 hrs

    Sustainable mobility means satisfying “the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”(Brundtland Report, 1987). Therefore, sustainable mobility is the mobility model that takes into account the enhanced mobility demand of the rising population in urban areas and at the same time allows for minimal environmental and territorial impacts. The main aim of this event is to analyse the current traffic situation of European cities with historical centres and European regions, best-practice examples, innovative traffic programmes and technological solutions as well as giving impulses for new activities, cooperations and projects. A special focus will be the Master Mobility Plan of Regions and Cities in Europe.  

    Previous Smart cities conferences of the IRE took place in:

    • 15 November 2012, Tübingen, Germany
    • 28 June 2013, Vienna, Austria
    • 14 March 2014, Wroclaw, Poland
    • 20 March 2015, Trieste, Italy




    E:         F: +43 (0)662/84 32 88 – 5050

    T: +43 (0)662/84 32 88 – 10                


    In cooperation with: 

    Bildergebnis für wko aussenwirtschaft logo                  Bildergebnis für european union flag       Bildergebnis für city of vienna international logo

    Skupnost občin Slovenije            Bildergebnis für ZDRUŽENJE MESTNIH OBČIN SLOVENIJE           Bildergebnis für NAVYA logo

    Bildergebnis für tina vienna


    “European Reform Agenda” for Kosovo in final phase

    Franz Schausberger met with the Prime Minister of Kosovo Isa Mustafa on 26 October 2016 in Pristina:

    The government of Kosovo together with the EU Commissions Directorate-General for Enlargement is currently working on the lat details of a “European Reform agenda” for the country, said Prime Minister Isa Mustafa at a meeting with Franz Schausberger, the chairman of the working group Western Balkans of the European Committee of the Regions. He sincerely hopes that the work will be completed in time so that the reform agenda can be presented to the public in mid-November together with Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

    According to the Prime Minister visa liberalization is particularly important for his country, which already fulfills 93 out of 95 benchmarks. The two open points are the ratification of the agreement on the border with Montenegro and effective measures against organized crime and corruption. The first point fails in the Kosovarian Parliament because there is no two-thirds majority for ratification.

    Franz Schausberger underlined the need for reforms in the area of local self-administration. Mustafa announced a reform law for more financial independence of municipalities and cities. A revision of the right to vote is underway and attempts are being made to reach an agreement with the opposition for the local elections in 2017.

    from left: Lutfi Haziri, Mayor of Gjilan, Franz Schausberger, Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, Arban Abrashi, Minister for  Labour and Social Affairs

    Franz Schausberger met Kosovos Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj


    The 19th Meeting of the Working Group Western Balkans was held on 25 October in Gjilan, Kosovo, at the invitation of the Gjilan Municipality. In the first session of the meeting, which was attended by Kosovo’s Minister of European Integration Ramadan Ilazi, the Deputy Minister for Local Self-Government Bajram Gecaj and by EU representatives, an assessment of recent developments in Kosovo’s European integration process was made; the second session focused mainly on the “Connectivity Agenda” for Western Balkans, launched in the framework of the “Berlin Process”.
    The representatives of Kosovo mentioned the importance of EU visa liberalization for their citizens. However, a number of important preconditions need to be met by Kosovo. A particularly big problem is the high youth unemployment and the resulting migration of thousands of young people from Kosovo to the EU.
    Prior to this conference, Franz Schausberger was received by Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj for a meeting in the ministry. Schausberger stated that during the EU integration process decentralization and the transfer of further competences to the regions and cities is just as important as the implementation of other EU criteria. Hoxhaj agreed and promised a quick implementation of the requirements. Kosovo  wants to enter the status of EU candidate country as soon as possible and continue the negotiations even more intensively.



    Danube Business Forum has an important function for the successful development of the Danube area


    The Danube Business Forum took place for the fifth time in Novi Sad, Serbia, on the 24-26 October 2016.
    The objective of the Danube Business Forum is to provide a platform for institutional and corporate leaders to exchange views on emerging regional issues related to the EU Danube Strategy, utilize resources in the fields of energy, transport, agribusiness and IT, and discuss mutual investment opportunities. The Forum aims to encourage partnerships between companies, cities and regions to build prosperity and competitiveness of the Danube region.
    On this occasion, IRE President Franz Schausberger, in his function as chairman of the CoR Working group Western Balkans, was invited to hold a speech at the Forum. Schausberger pointed out that the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, whose capital is Novi Sad, is already functioning as a “small Europe within Europe” because of its ethnic and religious diversity. He congratulated Novi Sad on the nomination of European Capital of Culture in 2021 and noted that this is another important step in the overall development of Serbia towards the EU.
    The Danube region is a natural spatial, economic and cultural environment, and since 2010 it is covered by the EU Strategy for the Danube Region. This area extends from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, and includes 14 countries and over 215 million inhabitants. The countries in the Danube area are: Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Moldova and Ukraine.

    Franz Schausberger appointed Special Advisor for the European Commission

    On 12 October 2016 the chairman of the IRE Franz Schausberger got appointed Special Advisor of the European Commission for EU enlargement countries, in particular the Western Balkans and the Ukraine. This position is unpaid and Schausberger is assigned to the Department of European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations with Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

    Schausberger will focus on decentralization and regionalization in the Western Balkans and the Ukraine. The involvement of regions and local authorities of the enlargement countries in the EU accession process is of special concern for the European Commission.

    The strengthening of the Ukrainian regions is being debated for quite some time now, but the conflict between Kiev and the eastern Ukrainian regions blocks any further progress. Schausberger will contribute to the negotiations.


    Maribor, Piła and Trebnje: Three Cities join the IRE Network

     In the course of the 12th Conference of European Regions and Cities the IRE has welcomed three new members to its europeanwide network. We are glad that Maribor and Trebnje, two Slovenian cities, as well as the first Polish city in the IRE Pila, have  decided to intensify their European approach and have joint  the IRE platform.

     Maribor  is the second-largest city in Slovenia with about 112.325 inhabitants in 2015. It is also the largest city of the traditional region of Lower Styria and the seat of the City Municipality of Maribor.
    Maribor was crowned Alpine town of the year 2000 and was named Cultural Capital of Europe in 2012. The closest major Austrian city is Graz located 60 km north. Maribor now has a growing cultural and economic interconnectivity. One example is the Euregio Graz-Maribor. Maribor is represented by Mayor Dr.Andrej Fištravec.

     Piła is a city in the Voivodeship Great Poland, 80 km north of Poznań. Piła is the largest town in the northern part of Great Poland. It is the capital of Piła County. The town is located on the Gwda river and is famous for its green areas, parks and dense forests nearby. It is an important road and railway hub, located at the intersection of two main lines. With its numerous industrial plants and large-scale operations in the areas of chemistry, metal and wood processing, agriculture and as a railway junction and as the seat of a large railway repair facility, the city is of great regional significance.
    Pila is the IRE´s first Polish member. A coperation between the IRE and Pila has already been discussed. The scientific project with universities from the region Great Poland will take place next year. Pila is represented by its mayor Ing. Piotr Głowski.

     Trebnje is situated in Central Slovenia in the region of Srednja Dolenjska, at the intersection of the Alps, the Dinaric and the Pannonian landscape. It is a strong transit region and strongly influenced by the highway Karawanken – Obrežje (the border crossing between Slovenia and Croatia). The diversity of the region is evident both in nature and in cultural terms. Trebnje has been an important traffic hub, as the excavation of the old Roman settlement of Praetorium Latobicorum show. Trebnje is represented by the mayor  Alojzij Kastelic.

    Foto Maribor: Photo-alliance/ dpa
    Foto Pila: Stadtverwaltung Pila
    Foto Trebnje: Eleassar

    Regional Elections in the Czech Republic: New political movement ANO becomes strongest party

    On October 7th and 8th 2016, regional elections were held in 13 of the 14 regional parliaments in the Czech Republic. No elections were held in the capital Prague. Andrej Babiš and his party ANO (akce nespokojených občanů, „Ano“ also means „Yes“ in Czech) won in nine regions, Bohuslav Sobotka and the Czech social democrats won in two regions, the Christian democrats were able to get the most votes in one region. In the Liberec region, the regional party Starostové pro Liberecký kraj (major for the Liberec region) were able to secure a win. ANO got 21,05% of votes in the whole country, social democrats (ČSSD) got 15,25%. They were followed by communist party KSČM with 10,55% , the civic democratic party ODS with 9,47%, Christ-democrats KDU with 6,30%. SPD with 4,67% and the political movement STAN with 4,02%. Various other parties reached 28,69% of the total votes. Only roughly a third of eligible voters participated in the regional elections.
    Bohuslav Sobotka conceded defeat after the elections and acknowledged that the electorate voted for a political change in the regions. The election was also a defeat for the conservative opposition parties like the ODS.
    The government participation of ANO was apparently not a negative factor for party. ANO, which first appeared in 2012, could establish itself as the strongest political power in nine regions in the first regional elections they participated in. Immediately after the party´s establishment in 2012, they managed to win roughly 20% of the Czech electorate. Already at the EU elections in 2014, the ANO party became the strongest political power in the Czech Republic. The ANO also competed in the last parliamentary elections with the slogan “ANO, bude líp” (“Yes, it will get better) and were able to secure second place in this election. As coalition partner, Andrej Babiš became the new minister of finances. Babiš presents himself as a fighter against corruption and dissipation of money. This fact makes him popular among many Czechs. The 61-year-old billionaire is the owner of the Agrofert Corporation, 250 companies in 18 different countries are a part of Agrofert. Besides many other ventures, he also owns two important Czech daily newspapers and a Czech radio station. Critics of Babiš are distrustful of his influence in the media.

    The regional elections are regarded as a trend indicator for the next parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic, which will be held in 2017. The results of the regional elections confirm national polls, which see ANO as leading party. The outcome of the elections also boost speculations that Babiš is planning to become the next head of government after the next parliamentary elections. Czech media sources are reporting that he wants to become the successor of Sobotka after the next elections.
    Considering the competition between the coalition partners in the government ANO and ČSSD, the political opposition almost perished. The civic ODS and the conservative Top09 were still not able to surmount their difficulties after three years. Back then, their administration was toppled because of a corruption and bugging scandal. Both parties only attained single-digit results. This fact must be very disturbing for these parties, because traditionally the opposition parties gain votes in regional elections in the Czech Republic.

    Die Zeit (8.10.2016)
    Der Standard (8.10.2016)
    Neue Zürcher Zeitung (9.10.2016)
    ORF (9.10.2016) (abgerufen am 11.10.2016)

    Local Elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina

    Milorad Dodik, the president of the Republika Srpska, prevailed again: Just after he was able to achieve victory in a controversial referendum concerning a Serbian holiday, he and his party SNSD won 33 city mayor seats in the council elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) on 2 October 2016. Dodik emphasized after the referendum that he had received congratulations from the Serbian Prime MinisterAleksandar Vučić and “from Moscow”. On Tuesday, October 4th, it was clear that the municipality Srebrenica will also get a Bosnian-Serbian mayor. During the Bosnian war in the 1990s, over 8000 Bosniak (Muslim) inhabitants of Srebrenica were killed by Serbian militias. Bosnian Serb Mladen Grujičić will now assume office as major of Srebrenica and will succeed former major Ćamil Duraković, a Bosnian Muslim. Grujičić will be the first Bosnian Serb acting as a major of this community, his predecessors were all Bosnian Muslims.

    Milorad Dodik and his party were also able to win in the second biggest city of BiH Banja Luka. Furthermore, they also triumphed in 11 other municipalities, which were governed by the opposition party SDS before. However, Dodik´s SNSD party was not the only party which won in this election. The left-wing party Naša Stranka (“Our party”) was also able to chalk up a victory and was able to place 2ndin the two election districts Zentrum and Novo Sarajevo (after the Muslim national party SDA). In the Baščaršija district of Sarajevo, they even placed 1st. The results of the local election were a decent victory for this young party. The left-wing party, which opposes nationalism, will also be represented in other local councils in the Bosniak-Croat federation of the country. The social democrats SDP were also satisfied with the results of the local elections: After a division within the party and a severe election defeat, they were able to recover and gained victory in the city of Tuzla, the 3rd biggest city of Bosnia-Herzegovina. They also won in nine additional cities.
    Some independent nominees also had a reason to celebrate the results of the elections, they had emphasized their opposition to the corruption of the established older parties on their election platforms.

    The controversial referendum which was initiated by Dodik also helped some decidedly Bosniak (Muslim) parties, which because of the polarization between the different ethnic groups received more votes. Bakir Izetbegović, the head of the biggest Bosniak-Muslim party SDA, had previously brought in a charge against this holiday. His party cooperated with the party of oligarch Fahrudin Radončić and they were able to win some inner city districts of Sarajevo. The results of the election can be seen as an indication that the number of liberal thinking Bosnians who oppose ethnonationalism is shrinking. Many of those people have left Bosnia-Herzegovina in recent years. Izetbegović underlined the victory in Sarajevo, stressing that “the victory in the center of Sarajevo is more important than in ten other municipalities”. He probably also made this emphasis because his party had lost in some other communities. His party is still dominating in Sarajevo and 33 other constituencies, but they lost 12 of their former strongholds. The Croatian HDZ party, a branch of the conservative party in Croatia, won in the predominantly Croat regions of the country.
    There were also reports from massive electoral fraud: Opposition members reported “bought votes”. Votes were apparently bought for amounts of about 25-200 Euro. In addition, votes were also seemingly bought in exchange for food and debt cancellations (for example for electricity or coal). Citizens lend their ID card, while someone else voted for them. However, these allegations are not proved yet.
    In the city of Mostar, the capital of the Herzegovina region, the elections was not be held at all. Over 90.000 people were thus not allowed to vote. The hostile ethnic groups were not able to reach a consensus. The president of the electoral commission Ahmet Santic and the President Dragan Kovic were also not able to participate and vote, both of them are from Mostar.

    According to official information, voter turnout was about 54 per cent (about 50 per cent turnout in the Bosniak-Croat Federation and about 60 per cent turnout in the Republika Srpska).

    In summary, it can be concluded that nationalism is rising in Bosnia-Herzegovina. These developments are damaging the central state. Tensions between the different ethnic groups
    are still noticeable. Lately, those tensioned have further tightened.

    Die Presse, 05.10.2016 (Online)
    Der Standard, 03.10.2016 (Online)
    ORF, 02.10.2016 (Online)
    Salzburger Nachrichten, 02.10.2016 (Online)

    12th Conference of European Regions and Cities: Results and Pictures

    The conference of European Regions and Cities took place for the 12th time this year. About 220 representatives from politics and economics met in the Salzburg Congress to discuss and work on sustainability strategies in the fields of finance, integration, land use, water management and tourism. 

    First results and pictures are availabe on the IRE website und on flickr


    Fotos: Franz Neumayr