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    IRE-Patron Helmut Kohl dies at 87

    Mourning for the great former Federal Chancellor of Germany
    With deep regret the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) announces, that the member of the IRE- Board of Patrons since 2007, Dr. Helmut Kohl, died on Friday June 16th 2017 in Ludwigshafen. Helmut Kohl was 87 years old at the time of his death. 

    Born in 1930 in Ludwigshafen, Kohl was Federal Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998 and Chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from 1973 to 1998. His 16-year tenure was the longest of any German chancellor since Otto von Bismarck, and by far the longest of any democratically elected chancellor. 

    Kohl decisively shaped the process of reunification 1989/1990 as a “unification chancellor”. Together with the former French president François Mitterrand, he is considered as one of the architects of the Maastricht Treaty which have established the European Union and the introduction of the euro. Kohl received a large number of national and international awards.
                                                                                   Helmut Kohl with IRE-Chairman Franz Schausberger

    The IRE conveys his deepest sympathy and compassion to his family and will always keep his memory in honor.

    Predrag Štromar: New Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia

    New Deputy Vice Prime Minister of Croatia from IRE-member region Varaždin

    Croatia’s new coalition government comprising conservative HDZ party and liberal People’s Party (HNS) has been voted into office by parliament, receiving the support of 78 out of 151 MPs. After Ivan Vrdoljak resigned as president of the HNS party, HNS acting president Predrag Štromar was appointed Deputy Prime Minister as well as Construction and Physical Planning Minister of Croatia.

    Until recently, Predrag Štromar was president of the Varaždin County, but lost the third term of office to his former party colleague Radimir Čačić. However, he unexpectedly rose to the top of Croatian politics. His rise began in the party hierarchy in 2001, when he became a member of the presidency of the HNS of the Varaždin County. In 2004, he was not only elected as vice-president of the Varaždin County, who has been a member of the IRE network since 2005, but also as president of the HNS party. Four years later, in 2009, Štromar was elected president of the Varaždin County. The success was repeated four years later. The position of the Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia is the highlight of his career so far.

    From left to right: Franz Schausberger (IRE-Chairman and Special Advisor to the European Union), Predrag Štromar(Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia) and Andrej Plenković (Prime Minister of Croatia)
    Štromar was born in 1969 in Varaždin, is married and father of two girls. He studied at the Faculty of Economics and Business in Zagreb and was among other employed at the former food retail giant “Prehrana”. In 2002, he was appointed Director of INA d.d. Varaždin. At the same time, his party committee Radimir Čačić was Minister in the government of Ivica Račan.
    Source: and



    IRE-Chairman Schausberger as guest on Austrian TV Channel Puls 4

    Topic “Disempowering federal states – Yes or No?”
    The second edition of “In the Name of the People” under the direction of the former president of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Republic of Austria, Irmgard Griss, took place on 11th June  2017 at 8:15 pm LIVE on PULS 4. The theme of the second episode dealt with the question of whether to omit legislation from federal states. Former Governor of Salzburg and IRE-Chairman, Franz Schausberger, and the President of the Austrian National Bank, Claus J. Raidl, discussed this controversial issue. They were supported by prominent experts and tried to convince the audience with their opinion on “Disempowering Federal States – Yes or No?”

    From 1996 to 2004 Franz Schausberger was the governor of Salzburg, is special adviser to the EU Commission and for 20 years member of the Committee of the Regions. He defended the Austrian federalism, and had the national music star Marc Pircher as well as the political scientist Kathrin Stainer-Hämmerle in his team. They emphasized citizenship as an importance aspect  of federal states for the life reality of the people. Schausberger also drew attention to the fact that countries need more creative leeways in order to remain attractive to the rural population: A Zillertal mountain farmer would need other laws than a Burgenland wine producer.

    With the help of experts, counter-questions and video-actors, Schausberger (pro federal states) and Raidl (contra federal states) tried to convince the wider audience. The Austrian Panel, which was selected by OGM, finally decided which side had the better arguments. Through social media and telephone hotline, Austria had expressed its opinion: 53 percent agreed with Dr. Schausberger, that the power of federal states should not be deprived. Only 47 percent voted “yes“.

    The result consisted of the distribution between female and male sex as well as municipalities under 2,000 and over 50,000 inhabitants: 58 percent of women and 47 percent of men were against a disempowerment. Regardless of size, a clear trend is evident in Austrian cities: Municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants, voted with 55 percent against the disempowerment of federal states. In cities with a population below 2,000, there were even 61 percent who spoke in favor of federal states.

    “In the Name of the People” – the first recurring political show in the main evening program of Austria, deals once a month with the current socio-political issues of Austria. 


     Source: und



    Europa-Forum Wachau, a place for European discourse, in the proximity of its citizens

    European Union as a “model of the future”: Europe-Forum Wachau discussed challenges for the EU

    Since the accession of Austria to the EU twenty years ago, the Europa Forum Wachau has been providing annually a unique framework for European political discussions. This year’s theme of the Forum which took place from 10th to 11th June 2017 was “A Europe Closer to Its Citizens” and focused mainly on the future of the European Union. High-ranking political guests such as Minister of Foreign Affairs Sebastian Kurz, Lower Austria’s Governor, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, or EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, called subsidiarity as one of the core prerequisites for people to perceive the EU as a source of hope.

    Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pawlo Klimkin and incumbent Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic expressed their commitment to the EU’s values and the desire for further convergence between their countries and the Union. EU Commissioner Hahn stressed above all the proximity to the citizen: “We must work together to be successful” and the former Minister of Interior Mikl-Leitner discussed the importance of regional policy in order to regain people’s trust in the EU.


    The agenda of the Forum included several working groups and plenary sessions. Among other things, these included topics on European security, subsidiarity, proximity to the citizens, global competiveness as well as the tension between migration, democracy and the rule of law. Furthermore, a commemorative fair for Alois Mock took place on Sunday.

    For twenty years, the Europa-Forum Wachau has been providing the framework to analyze and discuss interdisciplinarily the state of the European integration process at the regional level. The Europa-Forum Wachau was created to stimulate discussion and arguments with the EU and about the EU. Additionally, the Forum provides creation and maintenance of networks, which are indispensable core of the European integration process. und

    Catalonia combats youth unemployment: Award for the most youth-friendly region in Europe

    From 31st May to 2nd June 2017, the plenary session of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) took place in St. Pölten (Austria). In the course of the meeting, Magnus Berntsson was elected as AER-President and Lukas Mandl as new AER-Vice-President. Representatives from 270 regions from more than 30 European countries came together to discuss innovation and cohesion.
    Within the framework of this meeting, the Region of Catalonia was awarded as the “Most Youth Friendly European Region”. The aim is to emphasize the importance of youth policy at the regional level in order to improve the living conditions of young people as well as to promote the social understanding of the role of young people in the society. Especially in the southern EU countries, unemployment among the under 30s is enormous. Catalonia has succeeded in counteracting this trend with the program of the Public Employment Service Austria:  Under the motto “New opportunities and unique programs”, this project was designed by the Department of Labor, Social Affairs and Family. The prize was awarded for the 8th time; among the competitors were regions from Norway, Serbia, Italy, Austria and Switzerland.


    The new President of the Assembly of European Regions (AER), Magnus Berntsson (3rd from right) and the new Vice-President, Lukas Mandl (far right), presented the AER award to the representatives of the Catalonia Region during the General Assembly in St. Pölten as the most youth-friendly region in Europe

    Franz Schausberger at the “Enlargement Days” of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Brussels

    News from Brussels:

    At the third enlargement days in Brussels on 31 May and 1 June 2017, representatives of local and regional authorities from the enlargement countries and from the EU were able to present their views on the enlargement of the European Union in joint advisory committees and working groups. The latest political developments and their impact on the regional level as well as the promotion of business start-ups to create jobs were discussed. 
    Hence, strong and functioning regions as well as municipalities play an utterly important role in this process. According to CoR Vice-President Karlheinz Lambertz, therefore, a top-down approach for enlargement processes is by no means sufficient, the regions and local authorities would have to be taken from the outset of the development. As the EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn agreed in highlighting the citizens’ role of the regions and municipalities in the enlargement process.With Salzburg’s former governor and IRE-Chairman Franz Schausberger as his special advisor for the regional and local level in the enlargement countries, he is trying to do justice to this and to involve the various regions. Franz Schausberger himself analyzed that the Western Balkans countries are currently developing positively through judicial and administrative reforms. “However, in almost all of these countries the process of reform is constantly being blocked by nationalist and ethnic tensions as well as the inability for a political dialogue“, Schausberger explained. Furthermore, other topics were focusing on youth unemployment, constitutional reforms and regional co-operation to strengthen potential candidate countries for EU-membership.                                                               
    From left to right: Dimitrios Kalogeropoulos (politically accountable to the Municipal Council of Palaio Falir, Greece), Heinz Lehman (member of the Saxon Landtag), David McAllister (former minister of Lower Saxony and now Member of the European Parliament and Rapporteur on Serbia) and Franz Schausberger (IRE-Chairman und Special Advisor to EU-Commissioner Hahn)
    In all countries of the West Balkans high unemployment is a problem, especially unemployment among young people, which is over 50 per cent in each country. The reason is not due to the fact that the existing education system produces too many university graduates from sectors that are not necessarily needed by the economy. “The model of dual vocational training in Austria and successful tourism schools, such as in Salzburg, would majorly contribute to improving the employment of young people in the countries of the Western Balkans”, said Chairman of the working group “West Balkan”, Franz Schausberger. This would give the young people and generation a prospect of a future in their various home countries and they would not be forced to move into an uncertain future abroad.


    2nd round of the local elections in Croatia: Zagreb’s mayor re-elected

    Elections in Croatia: Favourites won. Low electoral participation in the four largest cities in Croatia

    In Croatia, the second round of local elections took place on 29 May 2017. Eighteen counties (zupas), 56 cities and 103 municipalities were elected. In the key elections, candidates from the first round of 21 May 2017 competed against each other, which could not achieve an absolute majority of votes. These included Croatia’s largest cities, Zagreb, Rijeka, Osijek and Split.

    In the Croatian capital Zagreb, long-time mayor Milan Bandic (BM 356), who has been head of the Croatian capital for 17 years, has won the election against his liberal counterpart Anka Mrak-Taritas: Bandic received 51.8 percent and Mrak-Taritas 46 percent of the votes.

    Meanwhile in Split a fraud allegation broke out: The former mayor, Zeljko Kerum (2009-13), who was seceded four years ago, did not make a comeback. In the end, the HDZ candidate Andro Krstulovic Opara won. According to the state electoral commission, Opara won 46.2 percent of the votes, while Kerum only received 44.3 percent. Hence, Kerum demanded that the invalid ballot need to be recounted.

    In Rijeka and Osijek the results confirmed the victory of the election favorites.
    The reigning mayor of the port city Rijeka, the social democrat Vojko Obersnel, won 55.6 percent before his challenger Hrvoje Buric (42.7 percent).
    In the Slavonic city of Osijek, the independent Ivan Vrkic (62.7 per cent) will continue to hold the mayor’s office. He beat the HDZ candidate Ivana Sojat (33.9 percent).



    Discussions about a future cooperation between the IRE and the Institute of Southern European Studies (ISES)

    The Institute of Southeastern European Studies (ISES) visited the IRE–office in Salzburg
    On May 29, 2017, IRE Chairman Dr. Schausberger met Wolfgang Grossruck, President of the Institute of Southeastern European Studies (ISES), at the IRE office in Salzburg.
    The conversation about a possible future cooperation with Institute of Southeastern European Studies (ISES) was very promising. Wolfgang Grossruck (former Deputy to the National Council of the Republic of Austria and President of the Austrian-Albanian Society) was accompanied by the Executive Director of his Institute, Prof. Dr. Enver Bytyci and his Deputy Executive Director, Miftar Kastrati.
    From left to right: Dr. Joachim Fritz (IRE-General Secretary), Wolfgang Großruck (ISES-President), Dr. Enver Bytyci (ISES-Executive Director), Dr. Franz Schausberger (IRE- Chairman of the Board) and Mag. Miftar Kastrati (ISES-Deputy Executive Director).
    ISES was founded in 2011 and aims to serve as a cross-disciplinary, academic research center near the Albanian capital city Tirana. The Institute’s scope of work mainly focuses on studies with geo-political, historical, cultural, religious, scientific character related to various historical developments that have occurred in Southeastern Europe. In addition, the research studies of ISES cover areas of security, social aspects, law, human rights as well as development.The purpose of ISES is to discuss and prepare analytical reports on historical, cultural, social, political and economic fields of study in Albania, Kosovo and the entire Southeastern European region. It places particular emphasis on the training in the field of multidisciplinary research on South-South European issues. Furthermore, the Institute’s specific concern is to promote and support the cultivation of European values, economic and social cooperation as well as the development of democracy in Albania.

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    Confidence in the united Europe is again noticeable

    IRE- Chairman Dr. Franz Schausberger met IRE-Patron Dr. Theo Waigel in Salzburg

    With a clearly pro-European position – as the example shows in France – elections can be won again by the public commitment to the common Europe which is again more noticeable, as the many positive demonstrations for the EU show.
    The former “father of the euro”, former German Finance Minister Theo Waigel and the President of the Institute of European Regions (IRE), former Governor of Salzburg Dr. Franz Schausberger, agreed on a meeting in Salzburg on 27 May 2017.
    Additionally, Waigel fully supported the statement by the German Chancellor that Europe has to go its own way on the basis of the new developments in the world’s politics, which would require a more common ground in European politics. Theo Waigel, who is a member of the “Board of Patrons” of the IRE, held a much-respected lecture on the current European politic situation in Salzburg.
    IRE-Board of Patron Dr. Theo Waigel and IRE-Chairman Dr. Franz Schausberger