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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.

    CEO Andreas Klauser is a new member of the IRE-Economic Board

    IRE expands the European Economic Network:

    The Institute of the Regions of Europe and above all its IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger are pleased to announce that Andreas Klauser, CEO of Palfinger AG, joined the IRE-Economic Board.

    Born in 1965, Andreas Klauser took over as CEO of PALFINGER AG in June 2018.. For many years PALFINGER has been one of the world’s leading manufacturers of innovative lifting solutions for use on commercial vehicles and in the maritime field. As a multinational group headquartered in Bergheim, Austria, the PALFINGER Group, which has approx. 10,212 employees, generated total revenue of approx. EUR 1,471.1 million in 2017.
     

    Andreas Klauser
    Source: Palfinger AG

    “Europe 1918 – 2018 – 2118”

    14th Conference of European Regions and Cities:

     
    14th Conference of European Regions and Cities
    30th of September until 02nd of October 2018 in Salzburg, Austria

     
    The annual Conference of European Regions and Cities will be organized on topical issues for Europe’s regions and cities with a view to future strategies and challenges for politics and economy. Every year, this conference brings together around 250 political and economic decision-makers from different regions of Europe.

    At this year’s 14th Conference of European Regions and Cities, international experts will address on the theme “Europe 1918 – 2018 – 2118″ and discuss in a three-day podium topics on Subsidiarity and Europe, What emerged from the Europe of its founders, Rural depopulation, Digitalisation, Future of Europe and Energy supply.

    A total of 54 speakers will attend the conference, including EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, CoR President Karl-Heinz Lambertz, Salzburg Governor Wilfried Haslauer and the Federal Ministers Juliane Bogner-Strauß and Elisabeth Köstinger.
     

    Decentralization and strengthening of regional and local self-government is important for the Western Balkan countries on their way to the EU

    EU-Commissioner Johannes Hahn visited the IRE:

    Franz Schausberger pointed out that the Local Self-Government Charter provided a valuable frame of reference for the municipalities and cities; a corresponding Regional Self-Government Charter had been missing for years, but would be very helpful for the Western Balkan enlargement countries.

    In the meeting with IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger, the EU Commissioner thanked the regional and local level for the numerous activities of the Institute of the Regions of Europe, especially in the area of Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Above all, the many conferences and seminars in the Western Balkans contribute to improving the capacity of sub-national administrations.

    The strengthening of regional structures and self-government in the municipalities and cities in the six enlargement countries in the Western Balkans is an important prerequisite for their rapprochement with the European Union, said Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn during a working visit to the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) on 28th of August 2018. For the future implementation of EU policies, it is essential to have strong and well-resourced political and administrative institutions at regional and local level.

     
    From left to right: Joachim Fritz (IRE-Secretary General), Franz Schausberger (IRE-Chairman), Lisa-Marie Stauffer (IRE-Staff) and Johannes Hahn (EU-Commissioner)  

    Cyber security is an important area of digitization in Europe

    Visit of State Secretary Mag. Karoline Edtstadler at the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE):

    State Secretary in the Austrian Ministry of the Interior, Mag. Karoline Edtstadler paid a visit to the IRE on 25th of July 2018. The State Secretary and the Chairman of the IRE, former Governor Franz Schausberger, agreed that the issue of cyber security is an extremely important area of digitization across Europe. Almost every week there are cyber attacks on banks. Edtstadler pointed out that the number of cyber attacks is skyrocketing and that in 2017, 80 percent of European companies have been affected by it in some form. It mainly affects small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which often do not have the opportunity to effectively prepare for such attacks. Across Europe, better cross-border cooperation and a clear definition of what cybercrime is necessary. Therefore, State Secretary Edtstadler advocates that the cyber security package be completed this year during the Austrian EU Presidency.

    She also welcomed the issue of digitization and cyber security in a separate panel discussion at the 14th Conference of European Regions and Cities of the IRE, to be held in Salzburg from 30th of September to 2nd of October 2018.
    State Secretary Mag. Karoline Edtstadler (centre), IRE –Chairman Franz Schausberger (left), IRE Secretary General Joachim Fritz (right) with staff and interns of the IRE

    Schausberger met the Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia, Predrag Stromar

    Croatia:

    IRE-Chairman Franz Schausberger visited on the 21st of August 2018 the Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia and Minister of Construction and Planning, Predrag Stromar. Schausberger brought the Croatian Vice-President a personal invitation to the Conference of European Regions and Cities in Salzburg. Stromar is expected to speak on the subject of “rural depopulation”, which is an eminent problem especially in Croatia.

      
    Predrag Stromar with Franz Schausberger

    Congress delegation meets with Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Bosnia and Herzegovina:

    On 25th of June 2018, a delegation from the Congress’ ‟Reflection Group on Mostar” met in Sarajevo with the President of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Irena Hadziabdic, to discuss the situation of the country several months prior to the general elections on 7th of October 2018. The delegation was joined by Franz Schausberger, Member of the EU-Committee of the Regions and Chair manof the CoR’s Working Group on Western Balkans.

     
    In the meeting, the complexity of the situation in this city Mostar was underlined as well as that the Central Election Commission was technically prepared to hold local elections in Mostar as soon as a solution will be found.  Moreover, the Congress delegation and the Commission also exchanged on the forthcoming general elections to be held in BiH on 7th of October 2018 and particularly on the regional elections which will be observed by the Congress. Some important technical improvements have been achieved, despite the fact that there was no breakthrough in respect of the required crucial amendments of the Electoral Law.
     
    The Congress Reflection Group was set up to contribute to a sustainable solution for restoring local democracy in Mostar where since ten years no local elections have been held due to political stalemate. The visit of the Reflection Group in Sarajevo and Mostar is part of the Congress activities to promote local and regional democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to the observation of the regional elections, the Congress will also carry out a monitoring visit in November 2018, to evaluate the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government.
     

    Source: ceo.int

    Lviv solves its waste problem environmentally friendly

    IT Park becomes the first infrastructure investment in Ukraine of one of the world’s largest asset management companies:

    The western Ukrainian municipality of Lviv will receive a financing package of up to 35 million euro arranged by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to address long-standing solid waste management issues. In doing so, it becomes the first Ukrainian city to join the Bank’s Green Cities Framework. This framework offers a comprehensive business model for green urban development, combining strategic planning with investments and associated technical assistance. As such, Lviv will over the next twelve months be implementing a Green City Action Plan (GCAP) in order to implement green municipal investments and necessary policy reforms.

    A 13-year municipally guaranteed loan of 20 million euro from the EBRD will be complemented by an investment grant of up to ten million euro from the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership (E5P), to which the European Union (EU) is the largest contributor, and a five million euro concessional loan from the Climate Investment Funds’ Clean Technology Fund (CTF). The funds will be used to support the rehabilitation of the Hrybovychi landfill and the construction of a municipal solid waste mechanical biological treatment plant in Lviv, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by approximately 141,500 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. The city will also adopt better recycling and waste management practices. As a UNESCO protected city with a renowned cultural heritage, Lviv has over 750,000 inhabitants and is the administrative and touristic centre of the western part of the country. The project is also the first to be implemented in the context of Ukraine’s National Solid Waste Management Strategy.
     

    2nd from right: Lviv City Mayor Andriy Sadovyi
     
    Innovation District IT Park, the largest infrastructure project of Western Ukraine, was launched on 30th of June 2018. The groundbreaking ceremony was hosted by the consortium of partners: project’s initiators Lviv IT Cluster and Galereja Centre, as well as investment companies Brookfield & Partners and Horizon Capital.

    IT Park’s officially announced construction will cost in total 143,3 million euro, this amount is invested by several companies. Volodymyr Zhenchak, developer and investor of the project Galereja Centre says: “By 2021 we will build six 8-story buildings with a lease area of 72,000 m2. One high-rise business centre with a total area of 32,000 m2, a multifunctional centre with a variety of leisure and relaxation areas, conference rooms, and an international network hotel. However, the real value of IT Park cannot be measured with square meters. It’s a very ambitious project, and our goal is to implement it in the best possible way”.

     Source: ebrd.com

    Book presentation in the Federal Chancellery “Grossglockner High Alpine Road: prestige building of the state party”

    Presentation of the third volume from the publication series of the Grossglockner High Alpine Roads AG:

    Why was it so important to realize a project like the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, especially in the state of the state? And why in the second half of the 1930s is a high mountain road chosen as the symbol of Austrian values? And how was the message carried into the world exhibitions of the inter-war period? The connections between Austrian identity and the construction of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road are unexpected and multifaceted. Thomas Mitterecker, graduate engineer of architecture and assistant at the Vienna University of Technology, investigates these questions in his new book “Grossglockner High Alpine Road: Prestigious Building of the State Estate” (Großglockner Hochalpenstraße: Prestigebau des Ständestaates), which was presented at the Austrian Federal Chancellery on 28th of June 2018.

     
    Less from the perspective of the architect but mainly from the point of view of the historian Univ. Prof. Franz Schausberger referred his findings on the Grossglockner street as a myth and symbol of the state party.
     

     
    From left to right: Johannes Hörl (Director General Grossglockner High Alpine Roads AG), Thomas Mitterecker (Author), Caroline Jäger-Klein (Vienna University of Technology and President ICOMOS Austria) and Franz Schausberger (Chairman of the Institute of the European Regions, former governor of Salzburg)
    Source: Grossglockner High Alpine Road

    Strmol Mansion declared Unique Castle of the Year

    Slovenia:

    The Strmol Mansion, a castle dating back to the 13th century which was completely renovated in 2012 to become a luxury hotel, has received the prestigious award for Unique Castle of the Year 2018, conferred by the London tourism magazine Travel and Hospitality on the 20th of July 2018.

    Strmol, located 30 km north of Ljubljana, is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in the country and is considered a cultural monument of national importance. According to JGZ Brdo, Strmol is one of only two Slovenian castles with original equipment.
      
    The mansion’s last owners before the estate was nationalized after World War II were Rado and Ksenija Hribar, wealthy industrialists, who regularly invited the Slovenian elite for social events. The Hribars were accused of collaborating with the occupying forces in WWII, even though Hribar was known to have financed the Partisan resistance movement throughout the war. The pair was executed by the then security intelligence forces in January 1944.
      
    Their story inspired the award-winning novel “To noč sem jo videl” (I Saw Her That Night) by acclaimed Slovenian author Drago Jančar.
     
     
    Source: vlada.si

    Franz Schausberger: Reduce European regulatory density

    Plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels:

    On 4th  July and 5th of July 2018, 350 representatives of regions, cities and municipalities gathered for the 130th plenary session of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Brussels, to which Salzburg’s representative in the Committee of the Regions, Franz Schausberger, was invited. At the centre of the last CoR plenary session before the summer break, were the priorities the Austrian Presidency, in particular questions on subsidiarity, the Western Balkans, and on migration and integration.

     ”The priorities of the Austrian Presidency are very important for the regions, cities and municipalities, and from our point of view, the slogan” less but more efficient “always resonates with subsidiarity”, stressed Salzburger representative in the CoR Franz Schausberger and continued ,”all of the priorities that Austria tackles within the program for the EU Presidency are important topics for us, and at the same time they are closely interwoven: the issue of decentralization plays an important role, above all in the Western Balkans which are currently doing a lot in the area of migration, so migration is just as important to the countries of the Western Balkans as it is to Austria.” As a further important priority of the Austrian Presidency from the point of view of the regions, cities and municipalities, he emphasized the digitization, which is “utterly necessary” especially for municipalities.
     
    From left to right: Michael Schneider, Barbara Eibinger-Mied, Reinhold Lopatka, Franz Schausberger und Michaela Petz-Michez
     
    The CoR plenary session also focused on the results of the work of the Subsidiarity Task Force. For the Committee of the Regions Michael Schneider is represented in the Task Force and for the national parliaments Reinhold Lopatka. On 6th of July 2018, the Subsidiarity Task Force delivered its final report to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. The eagerly awaited report deals with a number of specific proposals, such as:
    - a single audit form for the subsidiarity check
    - an improvement in the participation of the regions and municipalities
    - the involvement of regions and municipalities in the discussion of the European Semester
    - concrete improvements in EU policies
    - a reduction in the number of so-called “delegated acts” that can be adopted directly by the EU Commission
     
    In an interview with Reinhold Lopatka, Franz Schausberger expressed the hope that “what was painstakingly worked out by the Task Force on Subsidiarity will not be diluted too much.” For us, the topic of shifting back many detail regulations from European areas of competence is particularly important to the Member States and their regions, in order to reduce excessive regulation”.
     
    From left to right: Franz Schausberger (Representative of the Lande Salzburg), State Councilor Doris Kampus (Styria), Federal Minister Juliane Bogner-Strauß, State Councilor Barbara Eibinger-Miedl (Styria), Governor Peter Kaiser (Carinthia) und Municipal Councilor Peter Florianschütz (City of Vienna)
     
    The program of the Austrian EU Presidency was the subject of discussion at the meeting of the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels on 4th of July 2018. The program was presented by Austria’s Minister for Women, Families and Youth, Juliane Bogner-Strauß, to 350 representatives from over 200 European regions. The representative of the Land Salzburg in the Committee of the Regions and IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger thanked the Austrian Minister for the clear and concise presentation, pointing out that there would have been easier times for an EU Presidency than at present. He supported Minister Bogner-Strauss’ statement that the motto of the Austrian Presidency “For a Europe that protects” is not only about migration issues, but is meant in a comprehensive sense, including economic and social security.
     
    Source: salzburg.gv

    Newest “NewsRegion” issue

    IRE- Magazine:

    SALZBURG SUMMIT: Europe 1918-2018-2118

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    Banja Luka invests 15 million euro by the end of 2018

    Bosnia and Herzegovina:

    The Mayor of Banja Luka, Igor Radojčić, announced on 16th of May 2018, that the total budget of Banja Luka was increased by six million euros for investment. Private investors and the Republika Srpska will also participate in the realization of projects.
    According to Radojčić, the largest projects involve the development of the wastewater system, which will cost 50 million euro, and the construction of a multifunctional congress center with an estimated value of around 20 million euro. “One of the major projects concerns the construction of the bridge in Dolac, which is estimated at 4.5 million euro,” said Radojčić. “The agenda will also include an investment plan for the next three years, with spatial planning high on the agenda”, he added.
    Radojčić noted that Banja Luka was declared a European City of Sports in 2018 and was also nominated for the European Capital of Culture 2024. “So we have many long-term plans ahead of us, and in ten years’ time, we will transform our city into a safe and comfortable living environment”, said the mayor.
     
            
    Mayor of Banja Luka, Igor Radojčić
     Source: Nezavisne.com

    500 million dinars for the development of the municipality of Ruma

    The Government of AP Vojvodina invests in municipalities:

    On 11th of June 2018, the President of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, Igor Mirović, visited the municipality of Ruma. Mirović statet that the government of AP Vojvodina has invested 500 million dinars (4.2 million euro) in the development of the municipality of Ruma over the past two years.
     
    “The reconstruction of the main road in the municipality, in which the government of AP Vojvodina has invested 135 million dinars (1.1 million euro), is underway and should be completed by autumn”, said Mirović. He added that the government has already invested 45 million dinars (380.000 euro) in the infrastructure of Buđanovci village.
     
    Referring to the reconstruction work in “Rumska Petlja”, one of the largest industrial zones in Serbia, President Mirović emphasized that the municipality of Ruma is continuously developing.
     
    Source: Government of AP Vojvodina

    President Mirović signed contracts with municipalities

    Funding allocated for agricultural projects:
     
    On 5th May 2018, the President of the Government of AP Vojvodina, Igor Mirović, awarded 68 contracts to representatives of 41 municipalities. The provincial secretaries of agriculture, water management and forestry from a total budget of 932.5 million dinars (800 million euros), 300 million dinars (254 million euros) were allocated from the government. 
    Mirović emphasized that the government of AP Vojvodina has focused since 2016 on economic development and agriculture as one of the most central points. “Our budget has been increased by eight million dinars since 2016, which we will use for development projects,” said Mirović. The contracts entail the regulation of sewer networks and agricultural roads.
    The regulation of the sewage network, which will enable the irrigation and drainage of agricultural land, is a strategic objective of the Government of AP Vojvodina.
     
     
    President of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, Igor Mirović

    Source: Government of AP Vojvodina     

    Apatin plans to become a university town in 2018

    Apatin has embarked on its way to become a university town, as the Belgrade Modern Business School plans to open another faculty in Apatin. The Modern Business School, which was founded by the Academy for South East Europe (A.S.B.) in Vienna, offers Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs.

    Apatin’s municipality president, Milan Škrbić, met Professor Dr. Nenad Vunjak on 3rd of June 2018, who emphasized that students will be able to access high quality education in their hometown and reduced tuition fees. “The program entails more practical education, students will have the possibility to continue their studies in Austria”, added Vunjak.
    Source: radioapatin.com

    New employee at the IRE:

    After Martina Balazic changed her profession this may after almost four years at the IRE, Julia Soldo is now her substitute and responsible for the IRE Office Management Administration.

     Julia was born in 1998 in Salzburg. Grown up bi-lingual (German and Croatian), Croatian roots gave opportunity to easily learn languages (Russian, English and French), which was facilitated by the education in HAKII Salzburg, within the field of “International Business”. 

    Simultaneously, opportunities to go abroad arose from social engagement and language-contests.  Most notably, the international Russian-Olympics in Moscow, as well as regional and national wins at speaking competitions.

     
    The IRE thanks Ms. Balazic for her valid support and wishes her good luck and success in her bright future. More information about the new employee can be found on the IRE-Website 
     
    Julia Soldo
    Office Management, Partner Desk, Conference Organisation & Regional Activities
    julia.soldo@institut-ire.eu
    Tel: +43 662 843 288 10

    Newest issue of the IRE-Magazin

     

    30.09-02.10. 2018: SALZBURG SUMMIT – “Europe 1918 – 2018 – 2118″ Salzburg, Austria

    14th Conference of European Regions and Cities “Europe 1918 – 2018 – 2118″ in Salzburg, Austria. The annual Conference of European Regions and Cities will be organized on current themes for regions and cities of Europe with a view to future strategies and challenges for politics and business.

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    2nd International IRE- Expert Conference: “Cultural Heritage” in Novi Sad, Serbia

    “Cultural Heritage – Added value for the Regions of Europe”

    Common European Cultural Heritage in the Western Balkans – International IRE Conference in cooperation with the appointment of the City of Novi Sad as European Capital of Culture 2021.

    For the second time, the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) organized, under the direction of former Governor Univ. Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger, on the 27th of April 2018 a conference on “Cultural heritage – Added value for the Regions” on the occasion of the nomination of the City of Novi Sad (Serbia) as European Capital of Culture 2021. In cooperation with the Central European Initiative (CEI), the City of Novi Sad and the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, the conference took place in the Regional Parliament of AP Vojvodina, highlighting the great importance of cultural heritage for all European cities and regions, but above all for the candidate countries.

    Cultural heritage has an important value for all regions, cities, communities and societies. The preservation and salvation of cultural heritage is an important emotional criterion for Serbia’s EU integration, and forms the core for the common European cultural heritage by strengthening its regional identity. “By cultivating our cultural heritage, we can continue to preserve Europe’s cultural diversity”, said IRE-ChairmanFranz Schausberger, opening the conference. The former Governor of Salzburg also pointed out that a common European culture can only be achieved if it is based on a specific regional cultural identity. Above all, cultural heritage should be the foundation of a European vision for prosperity.


    Schausberger presented Pásztor the Friendship Chalice of the Institute of the Regions of Europe

     

    When we talk about cultural heritage, we do not only talk about the past, but also talk about preserving the culture of today and tomorrow. It is about “values of the past that we transfer into the future to preserve the heritage of our culture, including cross-border cooperation and the conditions of cohesion, if these circumstances are not ensured we cannot preserve the cultural heritage”, said the President of the Regional Parliament of AP Vojvodina, István Pásztor, in his speech. In addition, he emphasized the diversity of cultural heritage as it encompasses various territories, multiculturalism and inherited culture. The ability to understand a common interest, regardless of political directions, should be at the center of the daily process of perception. This is an example of the city of Novi Sad’s claim to be a pioneer when it comes to carefully and actively shaping its future.

    In Serbia, and especially in the city of Novi Sad, many ethnic groups live in harmony.Dalibor Rožić (Member of the City Council for Culture) emphasized at the conference that Novi Sad also promotes “universal, lasting and shared values”. The Novi Sad Cultural Administration supports projects of national minorities aimed at preserving their traditions and cultures, while promoting initiatives for the recognition and emphasis of the common.

    Another perspective was given by Dragana Milošević (Provincial Secretary for Culture, Public Information and relations with Religious Communities of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina) in her speech, when she stressed the interconnectedness of cultures that influence the regions and thus the cultural heritage itself. Fortresses, monuments, folklore and archeology are examples that show the different aspects of history.

    For Paul-Henri Presset, Head of Information, Communication and Press, Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia, the main focus lies on citizens: “Making them aware of their own national identity a key to the EU accession process. Providing them with greater opportunities for their own future is the foundation of sustainable prevention”. Cross-border and regional cooperation within Serbia and with the EU are important in preserving cultural heritage for generations to come. The EU supports cultural heritage and social cohesion in Serbia.

    Regarding regional policy and social cohesion,Johannes Irschick, Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum of the Austrian Embassy in Belgrade, focuses on joint regional projects for the preservation and promotion of regional cultural heritage. “It cannot only foster our mutual understanding of supraregional heritage, but also local and tourism development and to initiate regional projects requires common strategies and funding mechanisms”, said the director.

     

    From left to right: Franz Schausberger, Paul-Henri Presset, Johannes Irschick, István Pásztor, Dragana Milošević and Dalibor Rožić

     

    Best-Practice Examples of Cultural Heritage Protection and its Financing

    Cultural heritage contributes to promoting social cohesion across Europe and provides a framework for participation, engagement, promotion of integration and cooperation. In the opening speech of the Panel “Best Practice Examples of Cultural Heritage Protection and its Financing”, Norbert Beckmann-Dierkes (Head of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for Serbia and Montenegro in Belgrade) spoke about the current situation of the Western Balkan countries “which are on the right track to the EU, for example by investing in cultural goods. Together, a cultural city can be built and Novi Sad represents such a city”.

    However, in order to be part of the cultural path to the EU, the cultural asset “is economically, politically and socially important, which transcends borders, nationalities and regions”, said Asja Drača Muntean (Representative of Serbia to the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe of Ministry of Culture and Information in Belgrade). In her opinion, a step towards the EU would be to start with small programs to gain experience.

    Additionally, Ketrina Çabiri Mijo, Head of the project “Network Creation and Promotion of Castles” in Albania, highlighted the importance of sustainable and above all stable projects. “In Albania, cultural goods are not limited to castles, but are extended to f.e. churches”. For this reason, a common understanding of what culture means should be developed.

    Boran Ivanoski (NALAS program officer for the Sustainable Tourism Task Force in Skopje, Macedonia) goes one step further, stressing that “good cooperation at local and regional government level is important to promote, among other things, tourism. Above all, this would bring social, economic and environmental effects”, says Ivanoski. For this purpose, NALAS offers position papers on concrete measures and recommendations for sustainable development.

    For Adrian Tibu, Director of the Municipal Theater “Gong” in the City of Sibiu in Romania, is the key to success “the attitude to be ready to be part of the EU”. The combination of culture and tourism would lead to benefits and opportunities, innovative programs and services are inevitable tools to make the cultural heritage accessible to citizens and visitors towards Europe. There are still daily cultural events and volunteer programs are taken place in the city of Sibiu in the framework of the Capital of Culture.

    In Europe, the wealth of historical buildings and sites, historical neighborhoods and cultural landscapes is visible to the people. For Katarina Živanović (Archaeologist Europanostra Serbia) “cultural heritage provides European countries and regions with a unique identity, a basis for developing cultural tourism and attracting investment”. To sum up, cultural heritage is a key component and contributes to the attractiveness of European regions and cities. In this way, it creates jobs and attracts talent, companies and investors.

     

    From left ro right: Asja Drača Muntean, Boran Ivanoski, Adrian Tibu, Bosko Negovanovic (Moderator), Katarina Živanović and Ketrina Çabiri Mijo

     

    Regional Cultural Heritage – A European Vision for Prosperity

    In the panel discussion “Regional Cultural Heritage – A European Vision for Prosperity”, Nemanja Milenković,Director of the Foundation Novi Sad (FNS20201), emphasized in his keynote that cultural heritage goes beyond the national framework. It was inherited from the ancestors, represents a way of life and shapes regions and cities. “Social development therefore influences what we understand by cultural heritage”, says Milenković.

    Cultural Heritage will be celebrated throughout the year 2018 with various events and activities aimed at strengthening the common European identity and providing new impetus for the development of social and economic sectors throughout Europe. “In order to develop the cultural heritage of nations in the long term, it must be protected in the case of threatening situations, so many state and non-governmental organizations are actively involved in the process of cultural heritage protection”, Leylya Strobl (Board Member of the Austrian Blue Shield Committee, Austrian Roerich Society)further explained in her speech. The exchange of ideas and innovations for sustainable development, based on the international concept of human rights, is essential for the protection of cultural heritage. The aim is therefore to raise awareness of cultural heritage in civil society. “Only governments alone cannot handle this task”, explained Strobl. The UNESCO-affiliated NGO “Blue Shield International” is an internationally recognized organization operating in 28 countries and working to protect cultural assets.

    Tijana Palkovljević Bugarski, Director of the Matica Srpska Gallery in Novi Sad, pointed to the question of a “national culture”. The gallery not only illustrates Serbian art, but also deals with the processes of protection of Serbian cultural heritage in the region, especially in Hungary and Romania. “We need not only national identity or culture, but also the embedding in European culture, a broader view of Serbian cultural heritage in the European context, because cultural heritage knows no borders”, expressed Bugarski. She also pointed out that these projects for the protection and prevention of secular and religious Serbian art, cooperation between Serbian, Hungarian and Romanian cultural institutions, develop and promote cultural diversity in the region.

    Another example was provided by Marija Budimir (Head of Tourism and Culture in the Vukovar Srijem in Croatia), stressing the importance of intangible heritage, such as cultural festivals that to preserve the cultural goods.

    Tomislav Paljak, Vice-President of the Varaždin County in Croatia, emphasized the common history in this context and referred to the closeness between Novi Sad and Varaždin. The decay of cultural heritage is an “inefficient way of dealing with culture. To revitalize a region, there is a need for skilled workers”, highlighted the Vice-President. EU projects would contribute to the preservation of cultural assets.

    Financing transnational projects is important for both cities and regions. “In order to promote prosperity and preserve the cultural heritage for future generations, the EU supports various projects related to this theme with the most important programs for Serbia being the Creative Europe Program and the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) ‘Creative Europe’ funds projects around the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 in the regions, enabling the revitalization of objects and the purchase of equipment that can stimulate culture development and progress”, stated Mina Radmilovic Pjevac (Antenna Creative Europe Culture Desk Serbia, European Affairs Fund of AP Vojvodina).

    According to Dimitrije Tadić, Head of the Creative Europe Culture Desk in Serbia, an intensive exchange of sustainable concepts, not only at national but also at regional level, is necessary for cooperation with the EU. “Priorities and objectives are needed to fund sustainable projects, so a detailed regional and state-level exchange is the first step”, explained Tadić.

    To create awareness, one must preserve the value of the past. The origin of the cultural heritage is that a modern person must determine themselves in relation to their own past. “It is the past whose cultural value is recognized in the present. The existence of the common heritage therefore always includes the recognition of common values. On the one hand, taking care of these values while cultivating all layers of testimony about the common past can lead to social well-being. On the other hand, indifference certainly leads to social disorientation”, concluded Milan Popadić (UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policy and Management, University of Belgrade).

    To create awareness, one must preserve the value of the past. The origin of the cultural heritage is that a modern person must determine themselves in relation to their own past. “This is the past whose cultural value is acknowledged in the present, so the existence of the common heritage always involves the recognition of common values, and caring for those values while cultivating all layers of testimony on the common past can become social Prosperity on the other hand, indifference certainly leads to social disorientation”.  

    From left to right: Dimitrije Tadić, Leylya Strobl Bosko Negovanovic (Moderator), Mina Radmilović Pjevac, Tijana Palkovljević Bugarski, Marija Budimir, Tomislav Paljak, Milan Popadić and Nemanja Milenkovic

    The Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) has been dedicated to strengthening regions and cities throughout Europe for around 15 years. The aim of the conference was to present best practice examples of the preservation of cultural heritage in various European regions, especially in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, in order to exchange experiences and knowledge for the preservation of cultural assets. Experts and politicians from all over Europe attended the conference to discuss innovative financing mechanisms as well as sustainable approaches to regional and local cultural heritage conservation activities.

    IRE-Chairman Franz Schausberger has held bilateral talks with, among others, the President of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, Ištvan Pásztor, on the European Commission’s recent progress report on Serbia and on the EU’s Western Balkans Enlargement Strategy. The importance of preserving the cultural heritage, which is a cornerstone of the European Union, was emphasized. Around 120 participants from eight European countries participated in the international conference in Serbia. Conference partners in Novi Sad were the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Serbia, Europa Nostra, Blue Shield International, Raiffeisenbank International AG (Serbia), the Council of Europe, European Institute of Cultural Routes and the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs (BMEIA).

     

    Franz Schausberger awarded the honorary doctorate by the “Alexander Moissi University” in Durres/Albania

    Franz Schausberger, University Professor of Modern History at the University of Salzburg and former Governor of Salzburg, was awarded the title “Doctor Honoris Causa” (DDr., Hc) on the 22nd of May 2018 by the state university “Aleksandër Moisiu” in Durres (Albania). Schausberger Franz was awarded the title of honorary doctor “for his outstanding contribution to the European historical sciences and his scientific expertise for the integration of Albania and the other countries of the Western Balkans into the European Union”.

    The Rector of the University, Prof. Dr. Ksenela Sotirofski emphasised: “This honorary doctor award is due to Schausberger’s valuable contributions in the field of science and politics, especially in questions of European integration”. Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger has been passionately committed to the integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union for many years. He has organized numerous conferences, seminars, meetings and panels, as well as published papers that have highlighted the problems and suggested possible solutions to speed up the EU integration of the Western Balkan countries.

    The application to the Academic Senate for the honorary doctorate for Prof. Schausberger was made by Prof. Enver Bytyci. The Dean of the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences, Prof. Dr. Andon Kume, who gave the eulogy, praised Prof. Schausberger’s work as a historian, scholar, and politician and above all, highlighted the many years of close collaboration between his Institute of the Regions of Europe and various universities and other scientific institutions in the Western Balkans.

    The award ceremony was attended by members of the Academic Senate, lecturers and students of the Aleksandër Moisiu University (UAMD), professors and scholars in the field of history and political science.

    Prof. Schausberger was pleased with the honor of being part of the UAMD family and expressed his willingness to promote the values of the University in Austria and beyond. He also entered Salzburg’s special relationship with the name of the university, the famous Austrian-Albanian actor Alexander Moissi, an Albanian descent, born in Trieste, spent part of his youth in Durres and played from the founding of the Salzburg Festival in 1920 for many years the “Jedermann”. “My special thanks go to the students attending this ceremony, and I pledge you that I continue working hard to bring you into the big European family as soon as possible”, Schausberger said.

    Ksenela Sotirofski with Franz Schausberger

    Discussion on future cooperation between the IRE and the Regional Parliament of Wielkopolska Voivodeship

    Delegation from Poland visited the IRE in Salzburg:

    A delegation of the Regional Parliament of the Wielkopolska  Voivodeship (Greater Poland) led by the president of the regional parliament, Zofia Szalczyk, visited the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) on the 28th of May 2018 and met the IRE chairman Franz Schausberger and Secretary General Joachim Fritz for a detailed discussion. President Zofia Szalczyk was accompanied by the Deputy-President of the Regional Parliament Mirosława Rutkowska-Krupka and the President of the Committee of Regional Development Strategy and International Relations, Mikołaj Grzyb, as well as members of three parliamentary groups of the regional parliament. As President Zofia Szalczyk emphasized, the visit was intended to strengthen cooperation between her Voivodeship and the Austrian provinces. Due to the good geographic location of the Wielkopolska Voivodeship and the excellent traffic connection with Moscow, Berlin and Warsaw, the region is ideally suited for foreign investors. This is also reflected in the fact that already 4,000 foreign companies have settled in this region.

    After Wielkopolska was heavily influenced by agriculture, it wants to learn more about the exemplary organic farming in Austria, especially with regard to the agricultural products and marketing. In terms of tourism, the Polish regions are trying to win over the city of Poznan with a length of 350 km for sports enthusiasts from Austria by expanding the river ring.
     
    The development of cross-border regional cooperation is one of the priorities of the IRE. It was agreed to intensify this in further meetings.
     
                    

    Franz Schausberger and Zofia Szalczyk

    Appeal for a “citizen-close” EU on the annual Europe Day

    To visualize how great the loss would be if the EU breaks apart – that is one of the concerns of the annual Europe Day, which was celebrated this year in Bad Reichenhall on the 28th of May 2018 with a ceremony in the concert rotunda. Therein,former Governor of Salzburg Prof. Franz Schausberger spoke. He campaigned for a citizen-oriented EU, in which individual countries should not isolate themselves. Nevertheless, Europe’s borders must be secured externally. Even if one can not approve of their policies on all points, one must be glad that Hungary and Austria have largely blocked the Balkan route for refugees. In order to avoid refugee flows from Africa in the future, one must start with a new policy in Africa. So far, development aid has often only supported the local potentates and brought little to the peoples.

    At the ceremony, the Europa-Union Berchtesgadener Land, the administrative district Berchtesgadener Land, the city of Bad Reichenhall and the Reichenhaller philharmonic orchestra had jointly invited. In his greeting, Dr. Lackner emphasized what great value Europe has for all citizens. Furthermore he referred that a life in peace and freedom is a great gift and by no means self-evident.

    The keynote speaker, Professor Franz Schausberger, took up this topic. The long-term cooperation of the countries in the European Union has brought a great boon, and citizens should participate in their further development at all levels. He recalled that the founding fathers, in establishing state-level coalitions in Europe, aimed at ending old hostilities, not least for economic reasons, between peoples.
                 

    For his committed advocacy for a close-to-the-citizen formation of the EU Reichenhall, Lord Mayor Herbert Lackner (left) and District Representative Rudolf Schaupp (right) thanked the keynote speaker Franz Schausberger
     
     Source: heimatzeitung.de, Dieter Moosleitner

    Clear victory of the ÖVP at Salzburg state election (Landtag)

    Landslide victory for Governor Haslauer:
     
    The state election in Salzburg took place on the 22nd of April 2018. Over 390,000 were eligible to vote on Sunday to elect a new government in the province of Salzburg. Voter turnout was 64.9 percent.The ÖVP is the big winner of the state election. The top candidate Wilfried Haslauer made the expected victory on Sunday. The party achieved a proud 37.8 percent, an increase of 8.8 percentage points to the last election in 2013. Thus, the party provides 15 (+4 seats) of the 36 seats in the state parliament (Landtag).

    Governor Wilfried Haslauer

    The SPÖ reached the second place with 20 percent. However, the party with leading contender Walter Steidl touched -3.8 percentage points to the previous election in 2013 losses. The party now occupies eight seats (-1) in the Salzburg Parliament.

    The FPÖ with candidate Marlene Svazek came to 18.8 percent. That means an increase of 1.8 percentage points and the third place of the election. The Freedom Party will be represented with three mandates (+1) in the state parliament.

    The greatest loss of all parties is recorded by the Greens. They lost 10.9 percentage points after the provisional final result and came to 9.3 percentage points and only 3 (-4) seats.

    Winners are also the Neos. The top candidate Sepp Schellhorn reached 7.3 percent of the vote and is represented with three mandates in the state parliament. The remaining lists remained below the necessary 5 percent hurdle. In total, five political groups are represented in the parliament.

                               

    Source: orf.at, tt.at, standard.at, APA/Neumayr/Leo

    13th NALAS General Assembly in Slovenia

    On the 18th of April 2018, IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger, representing the President of the European Committee of the Regions, Karl Heinz Lambertz and Special Adviser to Commissioner Johannes Hahn, attended the 13th General Assembly of NALAS in Brdo, Slovenia.

    In his keynote speech Schausberger underlined that NALAS is a very important network of associations of local authorities of South East Europe as well as an important strategic partner for the European Union, especially for the Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission. Furthermore, he referred to the fruitful partnership und tight cooperation with the European Committee of the Regions and subsequently proposed that NALAS should be integrated and promoted to a greater extent at European level.
     
    Schausberger pointed to the 6th of February 2018, where the European Commission presented a comprehensive Western Balkans strategy, which is intends to give the six countries a perspective towards 2025. However, the Chairman sees the year 2025 neither as a fixed accession date nor a target, but only as a possible time horizon. The countries of the Western Balkans must therefore achieve reconciliation and solve open issues together, ahead of the accession.

    From left to right: Mico Micic (former NALAS President), Darko Fras (NALAS President) and Emanuil Manolov (Vice-President)

    The entire Western Balkans region is surrounded by EU member states. Under no circumstances, explained Schausberger, should we allow forces from outside Europe – like Russia, Turkey, reactionary Islamic states or China – to take the place of the EU.
     
    „It is well-known that not all EU member states are in favor of enlargement by the Western Balkan states. However, they all must finally agree to the accession of new EU Member States and therefore need to be prepared for enlargement and convinced that the enlargement strategy not only offers a great historical opportunity for the countries of the Western Balkans, but also for the EU itself“, Schausberger closed his speech.

                                         

    Petre Šilegov (Major of Skopje) with Franz Schausberger

    EU regional funding easier and more targeted in the future

    The future of EU finances – Cohesion policy after 2020:

    On the 12th of March 2018, Commissioner for Regional policy Corina Creţu debated the future of cohesion policy at the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg. This was the last Council on cohesion before the Commission puts forward its proposal on the next long term EU budget, on the 2nd of May, with the post-2020 cohesion policy proposal following closely. Discussions focused on the future scope and priorities of the policy.

    Commissioner Creţu stated her conviction that Europe furthermore needs a cohesion policy for all regions. But the status quo is not an option; the Commissioner highlighted the need for more flexibility, a more tailored approach to regional needs, with a new allocation method and new indicators for example, as well as a stronger link between cohesion policy and structural reforms. On priorities for investments; ”we know the growing impact globalisation is having on regions,” said the Commissioner, stressing the necessity to help regions achieve industrial transition, embrace innovation and invest in their people, with the help of smart specialisation. The Commissioner also mentioned the need for a long-term response to the migration challenge, supported by cohesion policy.

    Source: European Commission- Daily News 12/04/2018

    2nd IRE Expert Conference on “Cultural Heritage”

    27th of April 2018, Novi Sad, Serbia:
    For the second time, the Institute of European Regions (IRE) is organising an International Expert Conference on the topic of “Cultural Heritage – Added value for the regions”. Venue is the Plenary Hall of the Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, Novi Sad, Serbia.

    Construction volume of the IRE member region Ivano-Frankivsk was almost 62 million Euros

    Ukrainian regions as pioneers:

    In 2017, the volume of construction works in Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine amounted almost 2 billion UAH (about 62 million euros).

    “The construction industry plays an important role in the formation of the economic complex of the region. Last year, the total volume of construction work amounted to 1.9 billion UAH, the largest share of the distribution of production volumes – that is, 68 percent – of new construction, reconstruction and technical conversion of buildings. The general overhaul accounted for 23 percent and housing repair for nine percent, “said the Ivano-Frankivsk Regional Administration reported on the 28th of March 2018.
     
    Source: menafn.com

    The region of Šibenik-Knin finances the rehabilitation of maritime property in three cities and six municipalities

    Renovation of coves, beaches and promenades:

    The prefect of Šibenik-Knin County, Goran Pauk, signed joint finance agreements on the 21st of March 2018 with representatives of the municipalities of Sibenik, Vodice and Skradin and representatives of the municipalities of Bilice, Pirovac, Tribunj, Tisno, Primošten and Murter-Kornati the rehabilitation of maritime property.  

    Based on the demands, needs and necessities of cities and communities, we decided to rehabilitate the maritime property in the three cities and six communities with a fund of 1.5 million kuna (about 2 million euros). The coastal roads, bays, beaches and promenades in the entire Šibenik-Knin region are sanctioned, said the prefect Goran Pauk.  

     Source: lokalni.vecernji.hr

    IRE member region received award for investment

    Međimurje region as one of the top 10 regions for investment in Europe:

    On the 14th of March 2018, the fDi magazine, a division of the Financial Times Ltd., has named the Međimurje region as one of the Top 10 small regions of the Future 2018/2019 in terms of attractiveness of investments in Europe. The award was presented to County Prefect Matija Posavec in Cannes, France. Međimurje has been presented as an attractive business destination that brings European values and business practices to Croatia, providing good education, prosperity as well as innovation.

    Posavec noted that this was a further acknowledgement that the region was doing a good job, which has been recognized in European business circles. “We now have the responsibility to continue delivering positive economic results and further improving them,” said Posavec, who also had a working meeting with Andrej Fistravec, Mayor of Maribor (IRE member city) and Vitali Klitscho, the Mayor of Kiev. They agreed to continue the long-term cooperation of their regions.

                                             

    Prefect of the Međimurje Region, Matija Posavec

    Source: total-croatia-news.com

     

     

    7th IRE- Expert Conference on “Smart Cities”

    Challenges and Solutions for future Mobility in European Cities:
     
    For the seventh time, the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) organized on the 27th of March 2018 a conference on sustainable mobility “Smart Cities”. In cooperation with the City of Salzburg and the Land Salzburg, the session was held in the Salzburg Congress. This conference highlighted the great challenge of sustainable mobility for all European cities, but above all for the provinces. Smart Cities are urban agglomerations, which use modern information and communication strategies, sustainable technology and socio-scientific methods in order to pave the way into a post-fossil society. A vital element for a smart urban development is therefore coordination in the areas of mobility, energy and eGovernance. In smart cities, individual mobility is predominantly public and eco-friendly.
     

    Salzburg rides on the Green Wave

    Smart urban development and transport concepts are central elements that must take into account the increasing mobility needs of the urban and rural population and at the same time its environmentally friendly effects. “In order to reduce commuter traffic and pollution, the involvement of the regions is particularly important. An environmentally friendly, sustainable planning for traffic relief and increased quality of life calls for the surrounding communities. Examples from Austria, Germany, Slovenia and Switzerland show how to increase mobility can improve traffic conditions and reduce pollution”, said IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger. The former provincial governor (Landeshauptman) of Salzburg also addressed the aspects of population growth and the consequences of rural depopulation. Above all, “solutions go beyond the city into the regions, since many conditions and processes of smart cities are regionally interwoven”, explained Schausberger. Smart spatial development can thus contribute equally to securing living conditions and to sustainable metropolitan development.

    The Master Plan for Mobility of the Regions and Cities of Europe, which also has an impact on the citizens of Salzburg, offers particular potential. “Medium and long-term planning concepts in urban development, sustainability and the careful use of resources – the city of Salzburg has been paying close attention to these important issues of the future for decades”, emphasized Mayor Harald Preuner in his welcoming address. “The master plan 2025 ‘Smart City Salzburg – Energy solutions for the future’, which was launched in 2012, also fits into this guideline. This is an example of the claim of the city of Salzburg, as a provincial capital to take on a pioneering role, when it comes to carefully and actively dealing with their own future”, said Preuner.

    An optimal connection of the individual traffic with the public traffic as well as the foot and bicycle traffic are the cornerstones of a functioning smart city, which should become a meeting zone. State Councilor (Landesrätin) for Transport, Infrastructure and Housing, Brigitta Pallauf, emphasized at the opening: “We have to think in terms of mobility in a multifaceted and multimodal way. The necessary framework conditions are even better. New technologies support us. The aim of the state mobility concept is to improve the accessibility of all central facilities of the state capital, the district headquarters and the municipalities. Mobility must be possible for all citizens to make the choice between modes of transport easier, and especially in rural areas”. Modern technologies and solutions such as car-sharing, car-pooling and bike-sharing should play a role alongside the main means of transport.

                  

    From left to Right: Josef Schöchl (President of the Regional Parliament/Landtagspräsident of Salzburg,), Cristian Macedonschi (City Councilor of Braşov/Kronstadt), Brigitta Pallauf (State Councilor/Landesrätin for Transport, Infrastructure and Housing), Harald Preuner (Mayor of Salzburg) and Franz Schausberger (IRE-Chairman)

     

    Smart Cities – a political challenge

    In the keynote speeches on “Smart Cites – a political challenge”, the speakers addressed different topics related to a sustainable and green city. The Director of the INZIN Institute, Scientific Director of the Congress IONICA and former Advisor to the German Government on environmental issues, Prof. Martin Faulstich, put climate protection at the center as a crucial framework for mobility. “Climate change will fundamentally change the transport sector. The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has signed virtually by all the countries of the world, giving it a strong global footprint for urban mobility worldwide. A key role is played by electro mobility. Renewable power supply, nationwide charging infrastructure, autonomous driving and networked supply and disposal structures will have a lasting impact on cities and regions”, expressed Faulstich. However, this does not only require an energy turnaround, but also a turnaround in heat and transport. The first step should be traffic avoidance; to achieve this more mobility with less traffic is necessary.

    The EU member state Slovenia has recognized not only smart cities but also sustainable mobility as two of the key elements of its strategy for smart specialization, which go far beyond the borders of a city. Martin Pečar, Managing Director and Founder of OmniOpti Blockchain Think Tank Slovenia, Coordinator for Smart Cities and Logistics as well as Watify Ambassador explains: “The concepts of smart communities and villages are very important for Slovenia. Another important topic is the exchange of knowledge, cooperation and best practice across regions”. A further best-practice example was presented by Cristian Macedonschi, City Councilor of Braşov/Kronstadt in Romania. He referred to the importance of tourism in Romanian cities, which have “no attractiveness without mobility. One must develop into tourist regions, well networked bicycle paths”. The city council sees the way to mobility through the infrastructure.

    To provide an environmentally friendly traffic in a functioning urban area, could only work, if the view beyond the cities is given to create intelligent development, followed the former Senate Counsillor of the City of Vienna Otto Schwetz.

                        

    Martin Faulstich, Director of the INZIN Institute, Scientific Director of the Congress IONICA and former Advisor to the German Government on environmental issues
     

    Public urban and rural transport concepts in the European context

    Better and usable spatial planning as well as developed logistics was in the centre of the podium “Public urban and rural transport concepts in the European context” of the conference. “Each agglomeration has its own structures and challenges. Nevertheless, it is important to find common denominators and learn from best practices. The applicability of the measures reflects the political will, but must also take into account the relative position compared to others and enabling a better choice of strategies for improvement”, commented Karl Ernst Ambrosch, former ERA Chair Holder, in his keynote address. He referred above all to KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), which not only offer very good comparability opportunities, but also “serve as a first step in formulating goals and reporting progress”, he said. As a result, smart technologies and systems support the development of a good quality of life.

    Using the example of the Green Capital 2017, Essen in Germany, City Director Hans-Jürgen Best referred to smart technologies such as car sharing and bike sharing. “The traffic turn takes place in the head. This does not happen overnight, it does not immediately get into the minds of the people that there are such possibilities”. On the question of the moderator Stefan Veigl, why Essen has rejected Berlin’s offer to free public transport for two years, he answered as follows: “If you want to offer free public transport from one day to the next, then you need rails and buses to be extended for the future”. The regional president (Zupan) of the region of Istria, Valter Flego, agrees with this statement and explained the problem of his city: “5000 to 10,000 people live in the city, of which 70 percent live by the sea. The traffic is conditioned by the weather, when it rains everyone uses the car. The problem is that there is no good bus and train connection”. He sees more EU demands and cohesion policy as a solution. Furthermore, cooperation between the regions of Europe should be henceforth strengthened.

                     

    From left to right: Franz Huemer (Smart Cities Coordinator Salzburg), Valter Flego (Regional President/Zupan of the Region of Istria), Christian Gratzer (Spokesman of the Verkehrsclub Österreich, VCÖ), Hans-Jürgen Best (City Director of Essen), Karl Ernst Ambrosch (Former ERA Chair Holder) and Moderator Stefan Veigl

    Developments in European regions show that urban areas will continue to increase population and jobs in the coming years. More importantly is therefore European cooperation. Christian Gratzer, spokesman of the Austrian Traffic Club/Verkehrsclub Österreich (VCÖ) in Vienna, agreed with the Regional President Flego. “Future mobility and urban freight transport are both emission-free and space-saving. The metropolitan areas require significantly more public transport connections. On the other hand, the potential of the bicycle and the booming electric bicycles is much more to be exploited by setting up direct cycling links from the outskirts to the city”. The commute is the most important reason for mobility during the week and this is exactly where the first step should be. He pointed to the “City toll” as a strategy which should be considered hence it leads to a massive decrease of traffic jams. Subsequently, this would give the city more income, which in turn would be invested in improving mobility. Franz Huemer, Smart City Salzburg Coordinator in Austria added that “the future of urban mobility is perceived as more demand-orientated service. The private vehicle ownership is replaced by a mix of walking, cycling, public transport and additional rental vehicles. New information technologies and systems contribute to promote consumer acceptance and ease of use”. Due to Salzburg’s topographical character, citizens are not only restricted in terms of housing, but also in their mobility. Therefore, according to Hummer, it is necessary to adapt the mobility needs to what is possible in the city.
    The podium discussion made it clear that modality is not sufficient, but the change of values towards multimodality should be considered as a meaningful offer.

     

    Innovative traffic control systems for urban traffic – best practice examples from Europe

    The demand for sustainable and integrated solutions for urban mobility is growing. According to Dieter Pejrimovsky, Solution Manager in the regions Europe, Middle East and North Africa at Kapsch TrafficCom Vienna, “Mobility contributes to the quality of life in cities and is not only a prerequisite for economic growth and trade, but also for creativity and well-being”. In his keynote address in the podium “Innovative traffic control systems – best practice examples from Europe”, he said that “the global trend of rapid urbanization is accompanied by rising traffic levels, crowds and air pollution, as well as increasing urban resource and energy consumption”. Kapsch BusinessCom, a Kapsch Group, offers holistic mobility solutions and fully integrated software solutions for the future of interzonal transport. Smart Urban Development is the key to Mega Trends Urbanization. However, in order to “implement the Infrastructure Program, fixed budgets are needed”, Pejrimovsky pointed out.

    In order to optimize the public traffic flow between cities and regions, there are three starting points for Salzburger Verkehrsverbund Managing Director Allegra Frommer, to be considered. “Firstly, people from the region should get as far as possible into the city and thus to their destination, without having to change. Secondly, it is precisely in regional traffic with half-hourly or hourly intervals for punctuality and reliability. Thirdly, it is about providing the best possible customer information – both analogue and digital – so that passengers are guided quickly, easily and clearly to their public transport offer. Buses and trains will be ideally ‘guided’ into the city”. Furthermore, she referred to practical solutions such as guided private transport, which does not hinder public transport as well as on their own bus lanes and tracks. Subsequently, the free choice of means of transport is in the foreground, followed by coordinated space and traffic planning.

    Another point that became apparent when talking about traffic and mobility in and around cities is, according to Georg-Friedrich Koppen, Head of the Department of Mobility, Urban Development Planning Department of the City of Munich in Germany, “environmentally friendly traffic efficient parking space management. The basic requirement is attractive public transport. Munich has managed to reduce traffic in the city, although the number of inhabitants has increased”, said Koppen. In order to be able to still cope with the growth in the population in the future, the “associated traffic flows have to be handled in an environmentally sound manner, in particular in the city, thus saving space, low emissions, energy-saving and safe for traffic. This requires an orientation of settlement development towards an efficient and reliable public transport system, complemented by attractive and safe conditions for pedestrians and cyclists”. The unavailable vehicle traffic must therefore be managed in an environmentally sound way, and new possibilities for digitization in transport could make a significant contribution. The development of rapid-transit railways, mobility stations as well as car-sharing and bike-sharing systems sees Koppen as promising, which is already well received and used in Munich.


    From left to right: Dieter Pejrimovsky (Solution Manager at  Kapsch TrafficCom), Benjamin Szemkus (Project Leader Smart City Schweiz), Rainer Müller (Senior Expert for  Future Cities at Urban Innovation Vienna, UIV), Allegra Frommer (Managing Director of Salzburger Verkehrsverbund), Georg-Friedrich Koppen (Head of Mobility Section at the Department of Urban Development Planning at the City of Munich,) and Franz Schausberger (IRE-Chairman)

    Cities face many challenges such as noise, road safety hazards, congestion, and poor air quality due to growing cities and increased mobilization demand that does not stop at the city border. According to Rainer Müller, Senior Expert for Future Cities at the Urban Innovation Vienna (UIV) in the city of Vienna, lies the solution in the concept of a “productive city” and referred to the project “Vital Nodes” which aims “an efficient and sustainable transport of goods through the TEN-T nodes (urban areas), bringing together existing European, national and regional networks. The project provides evidence-based recommendations for the effective and sustainable integration of the nodes in the TEN-T corridors with a focus on the multi- and inter-zone linkage of long-distance and last-mile freight logistics. In addition, it also supports deployment in urban hubs and at the same time establishes a sustainable network of European experts”, explained the panelist, who presented the city of Vienna as a best practice example of functioning public transport. The capital of Austria is actively involved in the Commission’s EU Framework Strategy.

    In the neighbouring state Switzerland, however, the mobility problem of the cities is different. It is very often a “utilization problem and the avoidance of shuttle traffic became a new trend”, says Smart City Switzerland’s Project Leader Benjamin Szemkus. “Here it is important to find solutions with suitable simple measures: Carpooling, new ways of working and working hours of consistently promoting slow traffic can achieve a great deal. It is important to involve local people. Prescribed top-down approaches are not the tool of choice”. According to the expert, there are no smart cities but only “smart citizens” who already live a strong environmental awareness in Switzerland on a daily basis. Consequently, the citizens are in the focus. Businesses and Industries are important partner and play an instrument, among other things, to prevent the rural exodus.
    According to IRE Chairman Schausberger, the rural depopulation is linked to the traffic in the city “This is similar to the refugee problem: you have to start where the people come from”, concluded the Chairman the conference.

    The main objective of the conference was to bring together the regional partners, to analyze innovative transport programs and technical solutions, and to use best practice examples to stimulate the development of liveable cities. In previous years, the IRE expert conferences took place in cooperation with the cities of Tübingen (DE), Vienna (AT), Wroclaw (PL), Trieste (IT), Ljubljana (SLO) and Banja Luka (BiH).
     

    Pictures of the conference can be found here

    Committee of the Regions advises on prospects for enlargement for the Western Balkans

    Salzburg’s CoR member Franz Schausberger advises EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn as an expert on the Western Balkans:

    At the 128th plenary session of the Committee of the Regions, held on from the 22nd until 23rd of March 2018, the 350 representatives of the regions, cities and municipalities looked forward to joint opinions on migration and enlargement prospects for the countries of the Western Balkans (Serbia, Montenegro, Albania the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina). The adoption of the Opinion on the involvement of local and regional authorities of the Western Balkans in the macro-regional, cross-border and other initiatives of transnational cooperation in the EU by Salzburg’s representative in the Committee of the Regions, Franz Schausberger, was followed by a lively debate EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn.The statement of Salzburg’s CoR Representative Franz Schausberger was accepted by an overwhelming majority.

     
                     
    The opinion of Salzburg’s CoR representative Franz Schausberger was accepted by an overwhelming majority
    An important part of the debate was the question of strengthening democracy, administration and the rule of law in the countries of the Western Balkans: In the related reforms for the Western Balkans, CoR Representative Franz Schausberger sees an absolute prerequisite for a successful accession of the states of the Western Balkans to the European Union. The prospect of accession for the Western Balkans must not least include a perspective for strengthening the EU. At the same time, the CoR strongly supports the Commission’s clear statement that these prospects can only be achieved if the Western Balkan countries fulfill all the necessary criteria and conditions, in particular to strengthen their democracy, and if all the necessary reforms, peculiar in the areas of security The rule of law, competitiveness, regional cooperation and reconciliation. There should be no political exceptions and conditions should not be changed during the process.
     
    Source:  Land Salzburg Newsletter, CoR, Salzburger EU-Verbindungsbüro Brüssel

    Kosovo ratifies border agreement with Montenegro

    Western Balkans: progress towards EU:
          
    On 21st of March 2018, after many years of attempts, the Kosovar Parliament succeeded in ratifying a border agreement between Kosovo and neighboring Montenegro. 80 of the 120 MPs – and thus the required two-thirds majority – voted in favor of the agreement.

    The vote for the border agreement was one of the most important prerequisites for the Kosovan state, for the EU and NATO perspectives of the country as well as for a visa-free entry into the EU, said the IRE Board Member Lukas Mandl, Member of the European Parliament. The two former Yugoslav republics, Kosovo and Montenegro, signed a border agreement in 2015. Montenegro has already adopted the agreement some time ago.

    Lukas Mandl, IRE-Board Member and Member of the European Parliament

    Lukas Mandl welcomed the vote and at the same time referred to the advantages of visa-free regime for the Western Balkans. “I congratulate the Kosovar population on this milestone. (…) Of course, the visa-free regime is also crucial for the economic rise of Kosovo.” At the same time, Mandl, who is also a member of the Bosnia-Kosovo delegation of the EU Parliament and president of the Austrian-Kosovan Friendship Society, said: “The circumstances of the parliamentary treatment show how urgently and sustainably important the international community’s desire for development is the rule of law”.

                        

     Commissioner Johannes Hahn with Franz Schausberger

    IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger welcomed the approval of the Kosovo Parliament during the debate on his report on the EU’s Western Balkans strategy on 22nd of March 2018  in the plenary session of the Committee of the Regions in Brussels. He also expressed his disappointment that the extreme nationalist opposition was violently trying to prevent the vote through the undemocratic and un-parliamentary use of tear gas. “These people still have to learn a lot about parliamentary democracy and the rule of law in order to reach European standards”, Schausberger said.

                               

     
    Source: zeit.de, diepresse.de, sn.at, APA / Armend Nimani

    Successes for right-wing populists, Greens and right-wingers hold positions

    Local elections in the Netherlands:

    12.5 million Dutch were eligible to vote their regional parliaments on 21st of March 2018. This election in 335 municipalities was a year after the national parliamentary election also a mood test for the parties in The Hague. Voter turnout was 46.7 percent, slightly higher than in 2014 (45.1 percent).

    The right-wing populist Freedom Party (Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV), led by Geert Wilders, succeeded in winning the parliament in several cities, including Rotterdam and Utrecht. The party is represented for the first time in 30 instead of two municipalities (The Hague and Almere).

    In Rotterdam, the right-wing populist party “Leefbaar Rotterdam” (Liveable Rotterdam) remained the strongest force. In Amsterdam, the extreme right-wing National Forum for Democracy (FvD) by Thierry Baudet achieved a success and will move into the city hall for the first time. The Far Right Forum for Democracy (FvD) and EU-critical party occupy two of the 45 seats in the city council of Amsterdam.

    Strongest party in the two largest cities Amsterdam and Utrecht became the green party GroenLinks. The Social Democratic Party of Labor (PvdA) and the social-liberal D66 lost votes in most major cities, while the right-wing VVD of Prime Minister Mark Rutte gained votes in some municipalities.

    Source: focus.de

     

    7th IRE-Expert Conference on “Smart Cities”

          
          

     Register                  Program                Save the Date

    On the 27th of March 2018, Salzburg will host the 7th Conference of the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) on “Smart Cities”. At the Salzburg Congress, experts will discuss innovative transport systemspublic urban and rural transport concepts and their political challenges and implementations.

    In addition to regional and local decicison makers, transport professionals from across Europe will present best practice examples. 
     

    Smart Cities are urban agglomerations, which use modern information and communication strategies, sustainable technology and socio-scientific methods in order to pave the way into a post-fossil society. A vital element for a smart urban development is therefore coordination in the areas of mobility, energy and eGovernance. In smart cities, individual mobility is predominantly public and eco-friendly. The city becomes again a meeting zone.

    EU and Ukrainian local governments establish partnerships to support decentralisation reform

    Europe and Ukraine:

    The European Union increased its support for local and regional authorities in Ukraine on 8th of March, with the launch of five partnerships between Ukrainian and EU regions and cities. The relationships will see Estonian, German, Hungarian, Lithuanian and Polish communities share their experience in areas identified as priorities by their Ukrainian partners – drawing up economic-development plans, supporting rural areas, helping small and medium-sized enterprises, boosting tourism, and increasing transparency.

    The initiative is part of a broader effort by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) to support the decentralisation of power in Ukraine, a process that began in April 2014 and that has seen a consolidation of local governments, an increase in their funding and the transfer of greater powers to them.

    The partnerships will see local officials and experts visit each other’s communities to identify objectives, analyse challenges, and implement plans over the course of the next three years or more. Four of the five EU communities involved have representatives in the European Committee of the Regions. Financial support comes from the European Commission, with GIZ, the German development agency, providing day-to-day technical support.

                     

    Karl-Heinz Lambertz, the President of the CoR, said: “Local and regional governments are working together to encourage decentralisation and increase capacity-building by providing practical support to communities in Ukraine. These partnerships will help Ukrainian communities emulate the progress of EU towns and regions that have prospered from greater control over local services. Strengthening relations and sharing good policy is in the interests of local communities and will ensure a securer, more prosperous European neighbourhood.”

    Sergey Chernov, Chairman of Kharkiv Regional Council and President of the Ukrainian Association of Local and Regional Authorities, said: “These partnerships are a very welcome initiative that will help the decentralisation process. Ukrainian communities are gaining more power and funding, but local politicians need very specific support as they learn how to use that power to the best effect for their communities. This is also a show of solidarity by communities – in eastern Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, and Poland – that have made a similar journey away from very centralised state management.”

    The city of Rakvere in Estonia will work with Vesele in southern Ukraine on energy efficiency and sustainable local development, while the Wielkopolska region has teamed up with Kharkiv region in north-eastern Ukraine to assist rural development. Shyroke in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast in eastern Ukraine will be teamed with Barleben from Saxony-Anhalt in Germany, while the western Ukrainian region of Khmelnytskyi has asked Szabolcs Szatmár Bereg County in Hungary to help develop green rural tourism. Zarasai municipality in Lithuania will share its experience of improving transparency and involving local citizens in decision-making processes with Chemerivtsi, a town in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains.

    On the same day, representatives from the Ukrainian regions also attended a meeting in Brussels of the Ukraine task-force created by the CoR, at which the keynote speech was given by Vyacheslav Nehoda, Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister for Regional Development, Building and Housing. Other speakers included Marc Cools, Vice-President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Tibor Szanyi MEP, deputy chair of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee, and senior EU officials – including Peter Wagner, Head of the European Commission’s Support Group for Ukraine, and Dirk Schuebel, head of the Eastern Partnership division in the European External Action Service.

    Source: cor.europa.eu

    Vučić wins local election in Belgrade

    On Sunday, 4th of March 2018, municipal elections were held in the Serbian capital Belgrade, which had more than just local political significance. 1,606,931 people were eligible to vote, who had to choose between 24 lists. The councilors were elected for a four-year term.
    Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and his Progressive Party (SNS) clearly won the local elections in the capital Belgrade. Vučić (see picture) has reached 45 percent of the votes cast as an SNS list leader. His party won 64 of the 110 seats of the Belgrade City Council. Thus, the SNS does not need a coalition partner.

    His main contender, former Belgrade mayor and entrepreneur Dragan Đilas, came tp 18.9 percent and 26 seats. The former mayor of New Belgrade, Aleksandar Šapić, won 9.0 percent and 12 seats. The Serbian Socialist Party, which is a coalition partner of the SNS at the state level, achieved 6.1 percent and thus has eight seats in the Municipal Council of Belgrade. All other parties failed at the 5 percent hurdle and missed the entry into the council.

    Đilas speaks of vote purchase
    Most opposition parties acknowledged the defeat in the evening. However, Đilas accused his opponent of undemocratic practices and talked about buying votes. The president of the City Electoral Commission, Zoran Lukic, said that there were no major problems and that the irregularities that happened could not affect the election process. Vučić had led the list of his SNS, although the Constitution prohibits. It requires a separation of offices. Nevertheless, his party’s electoral list was officially named “Aleksandar Vučić – because I love Belgrade”. The Serbian president had made big promises to the citizens, such as the rapid construction of a subway and a cable car in the city. It was also noted that the President of the Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, (Bosnia-Herzegovina) cast his vote in the municipal elections in Belgrade.

    The following are the final results proclaimed by the City Electoral Commission:

    Source: derstandard.at, balkaninsight.com, Darko Vojinovic/dpa
          

    SPÖ won with 47.95 percent in Carinthian state election

    Landtag election in the Austrian province of Carinthia:

    In Austria, a state election took place for the third time this year. This time in the province of Carinthia on Sunday, 4th of March 2018. The turnout was 68.36 percent, 440,748 people were eligible to vote.

    The election winner in the Carinthian state parliament is the SPÖ (Social Democratic Party) with top candidate and governor Peter Kaiser (see picture). The party reached 47.94 percent of the vote (+10.55 percentage points), and took 18 of the 36 seats. Compared to the last state election in 2013, the SPÖ won three mandates, reaching half of the seats in the Carinthian state parliament.

    In second place follows the FPÖ (Freedom Party) which was able to record 22.96 percent of the votes and is represented in the future with nine instead of six members so far. The ÖVP (People’s Party) reached 15.45 percent (+1.05) and won a mandate to do so. In the future she will be represented in the state parliament with six seats. The Carinthia Team (5.67 percent) remains in the state parliament with three mandates. The Greens (3.12 percent) and NEOS (2.14 percent) failed to move into the state parliament at the five percent hurdle.

    The election results represent a good starting point for coalition negotiations. The SPÖ has a majority with each of the other three parties.

    Source: orf.at, kurier.at, APA/Georg Hochmuth

    Tyrol takes over the Presidency of the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region “For a Europe of Guidelines with more autonomy for countries and regions”

    On the 7th of February, the Austrian province of Tyrol officially took over the chairmanship of the European Macro-Regional Alpine Strategy (EUSALP), which brings together 48 regions from seven countries with more than 80 million inhabitants.

    The outgoing presidency of Bavaria symbolically presented Tyrol the “Kolo-wheel”, thereby demonstrating that Tyrol will now steer the direction of EUSALP for a year. “The EU Alpine Strategy is a political initiative emanating from the regions. Under the Tyrolean chairmanship, we will be faithful to the motto we have chosen “shaping.future.together. – In the interest of the Alps! “In cooperation with our partners in the Alpine states and Alpine regions to work on sustainable solutions for the Alpine region,” said the Tyrolean governor Günther Platter in his opening speech.
    At the kick-off event, high representatives of Austria, the EU and the Alpine regions were present. Among others, the Austrian Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen, the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the President of the European Committee of the Regions Karl-Heinz Lambertz, the Special Adviser to the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Walter Deffaa and the heads of government of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regions, South Tyrol and Trentino, Laurent WauquiezArno Kompatscher and Ugo Rossi, took part.

    Europe of guidelines
    In the spirit of Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the Union should focus in the future on the major guidelines: “The EU must take this back in other areas in order to leave the countries of regions and municipalities the freedom of local decisions. This is exactly where the EUSALP comes in”, says Tyrolean Governor Platter.
    “The priorities of the Tyrolean Presidency will be mobility and transport, dual training, resource and disaster management and energy”, announced Governor Platter. “Transit traffic in particular is a topic that is burning under the nails for the whole of the sensitive Alpine region: with 2.25 million lorries driving alone over the Brenner Pass year after year, the limit has been reached. Together with our partners in EUSALP, we want to bring about a solution here.”
    The Transport and Mobility Action Group is currently working on a tolling system that will apply to road transport in the Alpine region. The aim is to harmonize and implement measures to shift traffic from road to rail. In addition, a platform is to be developed that summarizes the various travel information systems.

    10-point dual education plan
    Under the EUSALP Presidency of Tyrol, the starting signal for the 10-point plan on dual training will be given. In addition to best practice examples, an action plan shows how dual training can best succeed.
    Other key topics include resource use and disaster management. Especially in the Alps, the different uses are due to the greatly reduced extent of the permanent settlement area early and clearly visible. “Therefore, during the Tyrolean Presidency of the EUSALP, a series of activities will take place for the sustainable use of soils,” stressed Governor Platter.

    Energy of the future
    Tyrol has set itself the ambitious goal of being energy-autonomous by 2050. A step towards the energy of the future is the construction of a common energy observatory in the Alps, which collects, evaluates and shares data. Governor Platter: “We want to know which sources of energy are needed and when to provide the best sources of energy at the right time. We want to plan for the long term and make the most of the advantages of our homeland, the mountains. “

    Regional diversity as strength
    The participating high representatives welcomed the work program of the Tyrolean Presidency. “EUSALP makes the European Union tangible and accessible. There are many common challenges that can only be tackled together, such as climate change. I wish Tyrol all the best”, emphasized the Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen.
    The Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz emphasized the role of the regions in the EUSALP:”In all the discussions about more or lessEurope, one thing is clear: it needs strong regions and we need a strong European Union based on the strength and strength of the European Union Regions sets – the EU is a diverse project. Diversity is not a problem but strength to live for.”
    The representative of the European Commission Walter Deffaa pointed out that “the future of Europe will become more concrete in the coming year”. This requires a space, such as the Alpine region, where the initiative lies with the regions in the case of important decisions”. “I wish the Presidency Tirol all the best – for the regions and for Europe as a whole”, concluded the President of the Committee of the Regions Karl-Heinz Lambertz.

    Source: CoR Newsletter

    ÖVP remains the strongest party in Tyrol

    Tyrol has voted – ÖVP triumphed in state election

    In Austria, the Landtag (state diet) elections were held on 25th of February 2018 in the federal state of Tyrol. 537,273 people were eligible to vote, the turnout was 60 percent. The People’s Party (ÖVP) remains on course for success and the election have brought a significant strengthening of the party under Governor and party chairman Günther Platter.

    In the election, the ÖVP was able to convince its main voters as well as previous non-voters, resulting in an increase of 4.9 percentage points compared to the previous election in 2013. The conservative party clearly surpassed the 40 percent mark, reaching 44.26 percentage points. Thus, the party wins one mandate and provides 17 of 36 seats in the state parliament (Landtag).
    Governor of Tyrol, Günther Platter

    The Social Democrats (SPÖ) with top candidate Elisabeth Blanik came with an increase of 3.5 percentage points to 17.25 percent of the votes. This puts the party in second place with six mandates. The Freedom Party (FPÖ) rose the most with 6.2 points and came to 15.53 percentage points. The Greens achieved a minus of 1.9 percentage points (minus one mandate) and could convince 10.67 percent of the voters of themselves. The List Fritz list received 5.46 percent (plus two mandates) of the votes. The liberal NEOS made it with 5.21 percent, respectively two mandates, for the first time in the Tyrolean state parliament.

    The main election topic of the federal state was the restriction of heavy traffic in the direction of Brenner and Italy. Since 2013, the federal state has been governed by a black-green coalition. Due to the election result, Governor Platter, who is going into his third term, can choose from five coalition partners. The outcome of the election in Tyrol represents the third victory in a row for the ÖVP after the clear win of the National Council election in October 2017 and the state election in the federal state of Lower Austria.

                             

    Source: orf.at, kleinezeitung.at and apa / georg hochmuth


    Poland’s experience with EU funds: good use of resources will lead to the successful development of all regions

    Conference in Zagreb:

    “For the next financial period, we need to set the strategic priorities of the Republic of Croatia in the coming years. In order to achieve this, it is important to involve citizens, but also representatives of universities, representatives of regional and local government as well as civil society organizations” stated Goran Pauk, Croatian County Association President, at a conference on 22nd of February 2018 in Zagreb.

    The conference “Experiences of Poland in the Negotiation Processes and the Importance of Regional Operational Programs for the Development of Regions” was organized by the Croatian County Association and the Ministry of Regional Development and Funds.

    Following the initiative of greater participation of the Croatian counties (županija) in the negotiations and the recognition of the importance of the operational programs for regional development in cohesion policy, the Croatian regions have brought two Polish specialists to Zagreb thanks to the good cooperation with the Polish Democratic Alliance.

    The key to successful implementation of the EU funds of the Republic of Poland lies in the reduction of national and regional programming levels, which means that the Polish regions correspond to the European regions, which Croatia is also aiming for. One of them is the West Pomeranian Voivodeship, from which Marcin Szymt and Piotr Wolski come from, both experts in the preparation and management of regional operational programs for the period 2007-2013 as well as for the current financial period 2014-2020: The operational programs in Poland go through several phases and many steps, the most important is good preparation. The focus is on the comprehensive collection of barriers as well as the investment and project potential of local and regional self-government units, said Marcin Szmyt in his speech.

    Both the national and the regional level were involved in the negotiation process, each with its own tasks. The division of tasks between national and regional levels has been undertaken in order to achieve greater transparency and accountability for the management of EU funds. The regional programs correspond to the thematic objectives of cohesion policy, starting with research and innovation, promoting social inclusion and combating poverty, as well as strengthening the institutional potential and efficiency of public administration.

    A good example of good practice is integrated territorial cooperation, emphasized Piotr Wolski. The Territorial Agreement provides for consistency between the actions undertaken by the Government, with local self-government setting the development priorities and strategic areas of intervention for which EU funds and national resources will be provided in a new financial perspective. The above mentioned agreement will serve as a basis for negotiations on the future regional program, as well as the basis of state budget support and the EU distribution instrument and national funds between regions.

    The Republic of Poland has received over 80 billion Euros from EU funds so far.
     
    Source: vusz.hr


     

    SAVE THE DATE: “Smart Cities” Conference

    7th IRE- Expert Conference in Salzburg:

    The Registration form can be found here

    Work meeting between Secretary of State Karoline Edtstadler and Franz Schausberger

    At a working meeting between the State Secretary in the Austrian Ministry of the Interior, Mag. Karoline Edtstadler and IRE Chairman Dr. Franz Schausberger in Vienna focused on questions of the challenges of immigration and the refugee issue on the countries of the Western Balkans as well as on the topic “Mauthausen Concentration Camp”. Schausberger pointed out that we should not forget that the countries of the Western Balkans played a particularly important role in coping with the refugee problem on the so-called “Balkan route” and, first and foremost, the cities and towns along the route have taken heavy burdens.
     
    Above all, State Secretary Edtstadler especially wants to make it feasible that every student can visit the Mauthausen Memorial. Schausberger encouraged as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the “House of History Austria” a close cooperation with the museum.

    State Secretary Karoline Edtstadler with IRE- Chairman Franz Schausberger 

    Schausberger on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s electoral law and EU- Enlargement Strategy

    IRE Chairman on the future of the Western Balkans state:
    At a meeting in the House of Representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo on 8th of February 2018, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s current situation with the EU was examined. Franz Schausberger discussed with the Vice-President, Mladen Bosić and the President of the Srpska Demokratska Stranka (SDS), Vukota Govedarica, the electoral law of the state and the new EU strategy for the Western Balkans.

    Schausberger emphasized that the pace of BiH’s accession to the EU depends primarily on domestic institutions and political representatives, and is determined by Bosnia and Herzegovina itself. The European Union continues to support BiH on its way to joining the EU, but all the conditions necessary for BiH to become a candidate country must be met.

    From left to right: Mladen Bosić (Vice-President of the House of Representatives), Franz Schausberger (Chairman of the Institute of the Regions of Europe), Jugoslav Jovicić (IRE Board of Trustees Member) and Vukota Govedarica (President of the SDS)

    Bosić hopes that Bosnia and Herzegovina will use the link with Serbia and Montenegro to join the European Union, but also that the EU will support Bosnia and Herzegovina in its efforts. Govedarica, believes that a change in the political culture in Bosnia and Herzegovina is necessary in order to gain faster access to the EU.

    Source: istinito.com

    Arges and Pitesti are renovating important museums

    Romanian cities receive additional EU funding:

    The buildings of the county museums Arges and the Rudolf Schweitzer Cumpana Art Gallery in the southern Romanian city of Pitesti (IRE-Member City) will be refurbished with EU funds totaling more than eight million Euros. Both buildings are architectural monuments and their renovation is carried out in partnership with the Ministry of Culture over a period of 44 months (3.6 years).

    The Arges County Museum (see picture) is being refurbished in a 4.5 million Euro project, largely through non-refundable funding. The museum hosts permanent exhibitions on environmental protection, Romanian art, history and archeology, including Roman treasures discovered on the territory of the country. In the case of the Rudolf Schweitzer Cumpana Art Gallery, the value of the project amounts to almost 4.3 million Euros. Of this, 4.1 million Euros are financed by the EU. The construction of the gallery from the 19th century is to be consolidated and rehabilitated.


    Source: romania-insider.com

    27th March 2018: 7th IRE- Expert Conference: “Smart Cities – Challenges and solutions for future urban mobility in European Cities”, Salzburg, Austria

    For the seventh time, the Institute of European Regions (IRE) is organising an International Expert Conference which is devoted to the topic of “Smart Cities – Challenges and solutions for future urban mobility in European Cities”. Venue is the Salzburg Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

    Registration

    Program

    Save the Date

    More information under:

    E: office@institut-ire.eu                          T: +43 (0)662/84 32 88 – 0

    F: +43 (0)662/84 32 88 – 5050               www.institut-ire.eu

    Der Salzburger Gemeindeverband (Salzburg Association of Municipalities) has been representing the interests of its 118 member communities since 1947. Their central concern is the representation of the interests of the Salzburg municipalities vis-à-vis the state and the federal government, especially in financial matters. Local self-government can only really exist and fulfill its tasks if it is financially secure.

    Smart City Salzburg - Smart living in Salzburg. Quality of life living, intelligently networked, renewably supplied, sustainably mobile, consensually developed: These are the declared goals that have to be attained – innovatively, courageously and above all together. Across all political, official and departmental boundaries, teh city is determined to make it happen. The Salzbur City Master Plan‘s vis der Stadt Salzburg enthält als Zukunftsversion wesentliche Herausforderungen, die Salzburgs hohe Qualitäten als Wohn-, Arbeits- und Urlaubsstadt bewahren helfen. 

    Kapsch TrafficCom, a Kapsch Group company, is a provider of intelligent transportation systems in the fields of tollingtraffic managementsmart urban mobility, traffic safety and security and connected vehicles. As a one-stop solutions provider, Kapsch TrafficCom offers end-to-end solutions covering the entire value creation chain of its customers, from components and design to the implementation and operationof systems. The mobility solutions supplied by Kapsch TrafficCom help make road traffic safer and more reliable, efficient, and comfortable in urban areas and on highways alike while helping to reduce pollution.

    Europe Direct is the information network of the European Commission for all EU citizens. There are now more than 500 such Europe Direct information centers in the 28 EU Member States, 12 of them in Austria. They provide answers to all questions about the EU.

     

    ThSalzburg Institute for Spatial Planning and Housing has been a proven and reliable institution since 1972. Until 1992, the SIR was mainly concerned with the exploration of spatially significant foundations for the province of Salzburg. In 1992, the SIR was reorganized and has since been dedicated to the areas of housing advice and housing research, village and urban development, energy issues and sustainability. The area of activity extends to the entire federal territory, in EU projects also to other EU member states.

    The EuRegio Salzburg – Berchtesgadener Land – Traunstein is an EuRegio merger founded in 1995 whose core areas are the Austrian province of Salzburg and the two Bavarian districts of Berchtesgadener Land and Traunstein. The seat of the merger at the municipal level is Freilassing. The goal is, in addition to cultural and economic cooperation, including the promotion of tourism, education, youth and sports.

    Highest quality, international expertise, individual consultancy and a lean structure: at Benn-Ibler Rechtsanwälte we provide convincing and efficient solutions to complex challenges. This benefits companies from a wide range of sectors, including the production industry, service providers, banks, financial institutions, project operators and financial investors. 



    Decentralisation and regional cooperation are crucial for a credible enlargement perspective

    Western Balkans:

    Just hours after the European Commission adopted ‘A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans’, the European Committee of the Regions held a debate on how to better include local and regional authorities from Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo in the EU’s existing macro-regional, cross-border and other transnational cooperation initiatives during a meeting of its Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX). 

    Following a request to draw up an opinion from the Bulgarian Presidency, the CoR will propose that decentralisation must be a strong pillar for democratic reform. Opening the debate on his opinion as the rapporteur-general, Franz Schausberger underlined the European Commission has presented “a very ambitions and credible enlargement perspective for the Western Balkan Countries combined with the very clear statement that the Western Balkan countries cannot join the EU in the condition they are in today and they have to meet all the membership criteria without any exceptions“. Under these preconditions and with strong political, he noted that Serbia and Montenegro could potentially be ready for membership by 2025. Accession negotiations could be opened with Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the basis of totally fulfilled conditions. With sustained effort and engagement, Bosnia and Herzegovina could become a candidate-State and Kosovo could advance on its European path. Summarising his position, the rapporteur stressed:
     

    Decentralisation is a pillar of the democratic reform process in the Western Balkan and regional and local governments in Western Balkan should be an integral part of the regular negotiations in the frame of the EU accession process.”


    From left to right: Michaela Petz-Michez (Head of the liaison office of the region of Salzburg to the EU), Franz Schausberger (IRE-Chairman, EU-Special Advisor) and Petri Mirala (Policy Officer, Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External affairs, CIVEX)
     

     In addition to the lessons learned from existing macro-regional strategies, the CoR points out that people-to-people and small-scale projects in cross-border cooperation programmes could play a significant role in reconciliation along the problematic borders in the Western Balkans. “It is in the cross-border interactions of people and in working together with your neighbours where the benefit of European integration is most strongly felt. These projects supported by the EU can help regenerate enthusiasm about Europe and set the Western Balkans on the right path” Franz Schausberger added.
     
    Despite the long term planning presented by the European Commission, the urgency of adoption of this opinion is generated by the EU-Western Balkans Summit on 17th of May 2018, in Sofia, organised by the Bulgarian Presidency and where the CoR has been invited to make a strong input. The opinion, drawn up by Franz Schausberger, is due for adoption at the CoR Plenary on 22-23 March.
     
    Download the EU- Western Balkans Strategy here
     
    Source: EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions / NEWS, 06.02.2018

    Strong regions make a strong Europe

    One of Europe’s key areas is its regions. Subsequently, the various European regions will be drawn attention through regional elections in 2018. Through its activities, the IRE not only promotes the integration process into the EU, but above all regionalization. To accentuate attention to the importance of the regional level, the IRE researched the upcoming regional elections for 2018 and presents the following overview:


    Financial agreemend signed for a master plan for transport

    News from the IRE member region Sisak-Moslavina (Croatia):
     
    The Prefect of the County Sisak-Moslavina, Ivo Žinić, accompanied by his deputies Roman Rosavec and Ivan Celjak, signed on 25th of January 2018 with the Croatian Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, and the Director of Central Financing and Contract Agency for EU Projects, Tomislav Petric, in the presence of the President of the Croatian Road Association Josip Škorić, a grant agreement for the development of the master plan for transport development of the Sisak-Moslavina region.
                                    
     
    The seven million Croatian Kuna contract, for which an 85% subsidy has been granted from EU funds, will allow the development of a regional Transport Strategy Paper (Masterplan) to strengthen the region’s development potential and create the conditions for the sustainable development of the local and regional mobility. The aim is to improve the region’s infrastructure and connectivity.
     
    Žinić thanked Minister Butković for giving the region almost 25 million kuna for the roads in the past year and presented the minister the greatest desire of the population, namely the completion of the highway from Lekenik to Sisak. Mentioned was also the completion of the construction of the Sisak station, the asphalting of the road from Vatra to Pokupski and the problem of the border crossing Dvor.
     
    Minister Butković said that the construction of the bridge over Odri and access roads is an important infrastructure project worth about 200 million, for which a blueprint is to be announced this year. Completion of work on Sisak station is expected this year. Last year, around 27 million kuna was invested in the renovation of the state roads in the area of Sisak Moslavina.
     
    Following the signing of the contract, the Minister and the Prefect visited the Thundels Bridge in Sisak, which is due to be refurbished in May.
     
     
    Sisak-Moslavina wants to become the Croatian center of the computer games industry
     
    Sisak-Moslavina would like to become the Croatian center of the computer games industry, prefect Žinić emphasized at the presentation of the incubator PISMO – Novska, the first Croatian incubator for games industry, on 26th of January 2018. It is an investment of 25 million kuna, which includes two buildings renovated in Novska, which provide premises for 16 companies.
     
    The project will be realized within the framework of “Business Infrastructure Development”, initiated by the Croatian Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Trade and implemented by the development agency SIMORA. The implementation of the project started on 1st of September 2017 and is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The partners of the development agency Sisak-Moslavina are the region Sisak-Moslavina and the development agency of Zagreb.

                             
     
    Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Craft Martina Dalić stressed at the presentation of the project that the government is doing everything it can to improve the working conditions of companies involved in the development of computer games.
     
     
    Delegation of the Virovitica-Podravina region on a working visit to the Sisak-Moslavina region
     
    Sisak-Moslavina’s Prefect Ivo Žinić, welcomed together with his deputies, Roman Rosavec and Ivan Celjak, on 30th of January 2018, the prefect of the Virovitica-Podravina region, Igor Andrović, with his deputies Marijo Klement and Darko Žužak, who had come to Sisak-Moslavina for a return visit. The Virovitica-Podravina region is also a member of the IRE.

    After a working meeting, the 23rd International Fair of Economy, Crafts and Agriculture “Viroexpo 2018″, in which the Sisak-Moslavina region is a partner, was visited. The guests of Virovitica-Podravina also visited the company Applied Ceramics d. O. and Sisak Business Incubator.

                          

    ÖVP creates an absolute majority in the state parliament of Lower Austria

    Landtag election in Lower Austria:
    On Sunday, 28th of January 2018, the state of Lower Austria elected its parliament. 66.47 percent of the eligible voters chose their new state parliament (Landtag). After counting the votes, the ÖVP comes to 49.60 percent, thus defending its similar result (50.8 percent) in the 2013 state parliament election.Subsequently, the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) reaches the absolute majority in the state parliament and comes to 29 mandates. The former Interior Minister and top candidate Johanna Mikl-Leitner emerged as election winner and remains Landeshauptfrau (governour).

    The ÖVP is thus clearly ahead of the SPÖ (23.90 percent) and the FPÖ (14.08 percent). The Greens received 6.40 percent of the votes and are consequently still represented in the state parliament. With 5.20 percent, the NEOS succeeded for the first time to move into the state parliament.

    The ÖVP has 29 seats, the SPÖ 13 seats and the FPÖ lands in third place with eight seats. The Greens and the NEOS each received three mandates.

    The result of this election also strengthened the ÖVP-FPÖ government coalition at the federal level.


     

     Source: diepresse.com and orf.at

    Statement from the CoR members of the Subsidiarity Task Force following the appointment of its members

    We welcome the appointment of the “Task Force on Subsidiarity and Proportionality” members, which marks the launch of its work. The Task Force should particularly consider ways to strengthen the involvement of local and regional authorities in the design and implementation of European policies.
    Subsidiarity should be seen as a means of designing a Europe that works better and which pursues a commitment to Europe shared by all levels of governance, as stressed by the Rome Declaration in March 2017.

    The reflection on subsidiarity cannot, however, endorse Europe’s disengagement in the field of regional development, as envisaged in Scenario 4 of the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe.

    We advocate a Europe that is closer to its citizens and that is able to provide itself with the means to match its ambitions. It is with this in mind that we will contribute to the work of the Task-Force.

                         

    from left to right: François Decoster, Karl-Heinz LambertzMichael Schneider, European Committee of the Regions Task Force Representatives
     
     
    Source: European Committee of the Regions (CoR)

    Salzburg CoR representative draws up statement for Bulgarian EU Council Presidency

    Franz Schausberger appointed as general rapporteur:

    On the basis of his recognized expertise in the area of the enlargement countries of the Western Balkans, the representative of Salzburg in the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), former governour Franz Schausberger, appointed general rapporteur by the CoR President. The Bulgarian Presidency had asked the CoR for an opinion on the EU integration process of the Western Balkans.

    Bulgaria has made “The Future of the Western Balkans” a priority of its EU Presidency and wants to develop a clear and concrete vision as well as a clear plan of action – without false promises, without false hopes, but with a good perspective. The EU integration of the countries of the Western Balkans (Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo) is clearly in Bulgaria’s interest.

    The focus of Schausberger’s statement will be on the extent to which the regions, towns and municipalities in the Western Balkan countries are able to play a decisive role in the enlargement process. With the emphasize on the principle of subsidiarity and the need for decentralization as well as regional and local cross-border cooperation in the Western Balkan countries, focus of the upcoming Austrian Council Presidency of the EU will also be taken up.

    Franz Schausberger discussed on 15. 01. 2018 his statement on the Western Balkans with Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn.

    Schausberger, who is also the chairman of the CoR’s Western Balkans Working Group and Special Advisor to the European Commission for the enlargement countries to Commissioner Hahn, will deliver his statement at the EU-Western Balkans Summit on 17th of May 2018 in Sofia to the representatives of the EU and the heads of government of the Western Balkans countries.

    The municipalities Berkovići, Teslić and Ugljevik join the IRE network

    The new year starts with the accession of Bosnian municipalities:

    The IRE network will continue to grow in 2018 with the accession of three Bosnian communities. On 13thof December 2017, Franz Schausberger personally welcomed the Mayor of Ugljevik, Vasilije Perić, Teslić’s Mayor Milan Milićević and the President of the Assembly of Berkovići, Stefan Muratović (representing Mayor Nenad Abramović). The delegation was accompanied by IRE Advisory Board member Jugoslav Jovicić.

    During this meeting, Franz Schausberger pointed out that this was the first time that the three municipalities had come together in this context to become more open to Europe by supporting the IRE network. “Today’s signing of the delegation to co-operate with the IRE will enable the Institute to support these communities and connect them with other IRE network members,” emphasized Schausberger. An IRE membership not only forms a future partnership, but also includes a tailor-made cooperation concept including integration into the Europe-wide IRE network. Furthermore, possible joint projects were discussed that are in favor of these communities.

    From left to right: Jugoslav Jovicić (IRE-Advisory Board Member), Vasilije Perić (Mayor of Ugljevik), Franz Schausberger (IRE-Chairman), Milan Milićević (Mayor of Teslić), Stefan Muratović (President of the Assembly of Berkovići) and Joachim Fritz (IRE-General Secretary)

    6th volume of the Occasional Papers 2017 has been published

    Recent publication of the IRE:

    With the sixth volume of the Occasional Papers, the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) presents once again a new collection of papers on current political issues in European regions. The contributions were written by students from various countries during their scientific internship at the IRE. With great commitment, they took the opportunity to examine interesting questions in a short time, some of which deal with political problems in their home countries. This resulted in a productive perspective between “insider knowledge” and distanced estimation from further away.
     
    The articles cover the following topics:

    • Europäische Integrations-und Migrationsprozesse
      • Die Regionen Europas als Akteure im europäischen Integrationsprozess Georg Prem
      • Europäische Städte als Akteure in der Europäischen Migrationspolitik am Beispiel des Netzwerkes der ‘Solidarity Cities’ Camilla Sophie Schritt
      • Land-und Stadtflucht in Österreich und Tschechien Julia Schmidlechner
    • Bosnien-Herzegowina: Reformen und künftige Generationen
      • Der aktuelle Stand hinsichtlich einer Verfassungsreform in Bosnien und Herzegowina Manuel Glattbach
      • Youth Unemployment Crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina Jake Ryan
    • Die Bedeutung der Regionen in politischen Prozessen
      • Die strukturell-politischen Verhältnisse Albaniens auf Regional-und Kommunalebene Edgar Subak
      • Grenzüberschreitende regionale Kooperationen im europäisch-russischen Grenzgebiet Sophie Marlen Jenerwein
    • Regional and local elections in Central-, Eastern- and Southeastern Europe
    • Kommentare Franz Schausberger
    Occasional Papers Nr. 6/2017, ISBN-Nr: 978-3-902557-18-6
    (7,00 € + Shipping Costs)
    Orders are warmly accepted under: office@institut-ire.eu

    Strong signal of local democracy: 2018 local elections in at least 15 European countries

    Survey of the IRE:

    Local democracy in Europe will pipe up in 2018. In at least 15 European countries – as far as known – municipal councils and partly mayor elections are carried out. Additionally, local elections in individual cities and communities, will certainly take place outside the regular local elections. This resulted out of a survey by the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE).
    The diversity of provisions on local elections in different European countries also contributes to the diversity of the whole continent and is justified by the historical, geographic, political differences and therefore needs to be maintained, stated the Chairman of the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE), Franz Schausberger.
    Practically in all countries, trust in local politics and their political representatives is many times higher than in the state level. Henceforth, it is important everywhere to strengthen the local level and local administrations.

    Source: Survey of the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE)

    IRE- Christmas & Holiday Greetings

    Austria’s Government Program is a positive foundation for more efficient and citizen-closer EU

    IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger:

    It is utterly positive that the work program of the new Federal Government in Austria has not only made a clear commitment to the European Union, but also concretely places the principle of subsidiarity at the heart of the further development of the EU, stated today the Chairman of the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE), Univ. Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger. This includes the decentralization of responsibilities at national, regional and local levels and consequently clearly against a centralized EU. Additionally, he added that it is particularly pleasing that the new Federal Government will work to ensure that the EU focuses on the essential issues in the future, as proposed in scenario 4 of the White Paper of the Future of Europe (“Less, but more efficient”). As a matter of course, the subsidiarity principle should not only apply between the EU and the Member States, but also include the regions, cities and municipalities.
     
    Subsequently, it is important to support the organization of a separate EU Convention, which should prepare Austria’s contribution to a European subsidiarity pact as well as leads to greater proximity to citizens in the EU. For this, the Institute of the Regions of Europe would like to make constructive suggestions, said Schausberger.

    NewsRegion #47

    Newest issue of the IRE-Magazin

    Funding for cohesion policy should on no account be cut beyond 2020

    “The areas covered by cohesion policy are becoming more demanding and the expectations in it are getting higher”, said Franz Schausberger, representative of the Land Salzburg in the CoR, speaking at the occasion of a conference entitled “EU Finances and the Future of Europe local view” in Brussels on 5th of  December 2017.
          

    From left: Marek Woźniak (Marshal of Wielkopolska Region), Günther Öttinger (Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources), Michael Schneider (President of the EPP and rapporteur on the Future of Cohesion Policy beyond 2020), Tomislav Donchev (Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria), Lilyana Pavlova (Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency) and Jan Olbrycht (Vice-Chair of the EPP-EP Working Group on Budget and Structural policies)

     
    To respond effectively to the phenomenon of dramatic rural depopulation across Europe, cohesion policy must continue unabated, even after the end of the current period of 2020. Subsequently, an urgent need to significantly improve the capacities and know-how of regional and local politics and administration is substantial. Furthermore, for Member States it is essential, in cooperation with their regions and local authorities, to develop development strategies as the basis for successful EU projects. The EU would need to reduce the bureaucracy required to obtain financial support, simplify procedures and avoid duplication of checks and controls.
     
    Günther Oettinger, EU-Commissioner for budget and human resources, emphasized that he wants to set new priorities in the areas of research, Erasmus and in the future and the young generation in addition to the previous priorities of cohesion policy. The new tasks in the field of migration and the Brexit failures should not be financed by cuts in cohesion policy.

                                            

    Josip Brkic (Deputy Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Franz Schausberger
     

    The difficult issue of the reform of the electoral law of Bosnia and Herzegovina was the focus of a conversation between Deputy Foreign Minister Josip Brkic and Franz Schausberger, Chairman of the Western Balkan Working Group of the European Committee of the Regions, in Brussels on 5th of December. BiH will hold election at all levels in October 2018. Until then, the election law has to be changed according to the constitution of BiH.
     
                            

    Lufti Haziri (Mayor of Gjilan, Kosovo) with Franz Schausberger
     

    On 5th of December IRE-president Franz Schausberger met Lufti Haziri, Mayor of Gjilan, Kosovo. Mr. Haziri informed about his initiative to create a transborder municipal cooperation project between the cities Kumanovo (Macedonia), Trgovište (Serbia), Preševo (Serbia) and Giljan (Kosovo). This cooperation should lead to a transborder micro region.

    Source: Landeskorrespondenz Salzburg 

    Nationalists in Corsica clearly won the second round of regional elections

    Election winners demand more autonomy, but no secession

    More than 119,107 Corsicans cast their votes in the regional election on 10th of December 2017, in which 63 assembly members were elected. The turnout was 52.5 percent, in the first round 52.1 percent.

    In the first round of the regional elections, the national alliance list “Pè a Corsica” (For Corsica) was clearly in the lead with 45 percent. In the second and decisive round of the election on the French Mediterranean island, the list won clear with 56.5 percent. Thus, the list reached 41 of the 63 seats.

    From left: Gilles Simeoni (Femu a Corsica) and Jean-Guy Talamoni (Corsica Libera)

    The candidates of the Alliance partiy, Gilles Simeoni (“Femu a Corsica” – Let’s create Corsica), under which the list is run and Jean-Guy Talamoni (“Corsica Libera” – Free Corsica), celebrated their electoral victory on the French Mediterranean island. The nationalist parties are seeking greater autonomy for Corsica, but do not want complete detachment from France. Additionally, they demand equal recognition of the Corsican language in addition to French, recognition of a Corsican residence status in the fight against real estate speculation from abroad, and an amnesty for inmates who they regard as political prisoners.

                                       

    Source: zeit.de, wikipedia.org and skywebforum.com

    ÖVP candidate just won mayor’s chair in the City of Salzburg

    First directly elected ÖVP mayor since 1945 in the City of Salzburg

    On 26th of November 2017, the first round of the mayoral election took place in the City of Salzburg. Exactly 1,545 votes separated the two candidates in the first ballot. Harald Preuner (ÖVP) received 35.01 percent of the votes; Bernhard Auinger (SPÖ) came to 31.88 percent. A close result that led to a run-off between these two candidates.

    Eligible voters in the ballot on 10th of December 2017 were, as in the first ballot, 113,258 people. The turnout with 41.4 percent was even lower than in the first round (43.8 percent). After counting the 8,066 voting cards, the city of Salzburg recorded its barest result of a mayoral election. 23,306 votes went to Preuner and 23,012 votes Auinger could win over. Thus, Preuner has just won the mayoral election with 50.3 to 49.7 percent. At the end, the ÖVP lead candidate was with 294 votes (0.6 percent) ahead of SPÖ candidate Auinger.

    Therefore, the long-time vice-councillor Preuner(see photo) is the second elected ÖVP mayor since 1945; the office was otherwise always occupied by SPÖ candidates. His mayoral office is initially 15 months, because in the spring of 2019, the next mayor and municipal elections is pending. The City of Salzburg is the capital of the County of Salzburg and has 154,977 inhabitants. The new election had become necessary due to the resignation of SPÖ mayor Heinz Schaden because of his conviction in the financial scandal (judgment not yet final).

                             

    Source: ORF, APA/Barbara Gindl

    As easy as possible access to subsidies is required

    EU action for digital rural areas is urgently needed as a measure against rural depopulation
    An own EU action for digital villages or digital rural areas is very much welcomed, in order to permanently revive the rural areas as place of living and work or to get the pan-European problem of the rural exodus under control, explained the Salzburg representative Franz Schausberger in the recent plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels.
     
    In the context of an opinion on “New Perspectives for Rural Areas through Digital Villages“, Schausberger also called for a simplification of the application for European funding, as there are only few projects in the ongoing Rural Development Program due to the complex nature of the requirements are able to reach a full grant application. In particular, access to finance for smaller, innovative projects that can be used at the local level should be debureaucratised. Access to strong Internet should be declared as a service of public interest at EU level, hence the ICT infrastructure is a crucial factor for the development potential of the regions. To meet the goal of the EU‘s Digital Agenda – across Europe, especially in rural and remote areas –connections faster than 30MB/s by 2020 need to be offered that the still large differences between urban and rural areas are compensated.
     

    Tanya Hristova (Head of Bulgarian Delegation in CoR and Mayor of Gabrovo) with Franz Schausberger
    During a debate with the EU‘s Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, members of the CoR urged that rules allow local and regional authorities address social and economic challenges without being considered state aid. “Our role is to ensure that the European market is kept open and fair. And we need to make sure that citizens and entrepreneurs who have bright ideas are not kept out of the market by companies who receive state aid“, the Commissioner said.
    Tanya Hristova, Head of Bulgarian Delegation in CoR and Mayor of Gabrovo, reported about the priorities of the Bulgarian EU Presidency from 1st of January to 30th of June 2018. The focus would be on compromises in areas such as migration, the future of cohesion policy, as well as moving forward with the digital single market.
    Pierre Moscovici, EU-Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs spoke at the CoR plenary session. “The euro area is now enjoying strong growth, but it still suffers from persistent economic and social divergences. These are unsustainable and risk fuelling political divisions. Our goal is not to build a transfer union, but a convergence union – one which more effectively marries responsibility and solidarity, risk sharing and risk reduction. I am convinced that these are two sides of the same coin“, Commissioner Moscovici said. CoR members underlined, that the reform of the Economic and Monetary Union should enable local and regional authorities to invest in Europe‘s future.
     
    Source: Landeskorrespondenz Salzburg and CoR
     

    Corsica: Nationalists demand autonomy but no secession

    First round of regional election on the French island

    On 3rd of December 2017, the first round of regional elections took place on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica. On the Island live about 300,000 people, who make up about half a percent of the French population.

    The Nationalist party “Pè a Corsica” (For Corsica), alliance of “Femu a Corsica” (Create Corsica) and “Corsica Libera” (Free Corsica), led by Gilles Simeoni and Jean-Guy Talamoni, came to 45.36 Percent of the votes. The election is considered as a possible directional decision for the difficult relationship between Corsica and the French central government. If the Corsican nationalists claim to be the strongest force, they are expected to increase their demands for more autonomy.
    From left: Gilles Simeoni (Femu a Corsica) and Jean-Guy Talamoni (Corsica Libera)

    The joint list of the most important nationalist forces wants a legally anchored autonomy of Corsica. However, the list does not demand secession from France. Efforts for more autonomy already exist on the island for decades. Though, the final decision will only be made in the second round on 10th of December 2017.

    Source: www.kurier.at and APA

    IRE Board of Trustees Member moves into the European Parliament

    On 29th of November 2017, IRE-Board of Trustees Member Lukas Mandl was commended as an Member of the European Parliament (MEP). Elisabeth Köstinger, who has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2009, left the European Parliament due to her new position as ÖVP General Secretary and President of the Austrian National Council. She was succeeded by the Lower Austrian Member of Parliament Mandl, who demands less centralism at the European level.

    In March 2017, Mandl anchored the IRE event “Centralism means less democracy” and noted that the federal structure of Austria, with its strong federal states, is still a rarity in Europe and there is no common definition of the term “region” in the EU. Each state defines the size and competences of its regions. Strengthening regions does not mean questioning the nation state.

    IRE-Chairman Schausberger with Member of the European Parliament Mandl
     

    Major investments in the IRE member regions Arad and Suceava

    Romania received 252 Million Euros from the EU

    The The European Commission announced on the 28th of November 2017, that it is helping Romania to improve its road and water infrastructure in providing the state a total of 252 million Euros.

    176 Million Euros, provided by the Cohesion Fund, will be invested in water management and distribution infrastructure in Vrancea county’s urban areas. This will result in access to drinking water for 66,500 inhabitants and wastewater treatment systems for more than 57,000 inhabitants. The EU provided Romania at the beginning of November with 17 million euro to improve the access to drinking water. This included the Suceava county (City of Suceava is in the IRE-Network), Constanta, Ialomita and Gorj.

    76 million euro from the European Regional Development Fund will be provided for the works of the national road E79, which connects Romania with Bulgaria, Greece and Hungary. The works will be carried out at sections of the road linking the cities of Deva, in the historical region of Transylvania in central Romania, and Oradea, at the border with Hungary. “The road passes through the counties of Hunedoara, Arad (in the IRE-Network) and Bihor, before connecting with Bors town, which will generate greater economic development and will stimulate employment and regional development in these counties,” Corina Cretu, European Commissioner for regional policy, stated.
     
    Source: www.seenews.com

    “There is progress, but much remains to be done”

    Hahn on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:

    The EU will continue to support the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in its reform process. Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, visited Skopje on 20th of November 2017, where he met with representatives from politics, civil society, science and culture.
    Ahead of his visit Hahn stated: “We want to support to carry out necessary reforms to make EU membership possible. There has been progress, but there is still a lot to do. These include concrete steps towards the independence of the judiciary, the reform of the intelligence services and a professional and performance-oriented public administration. We have seen progress, but the political authorities from both the Government and the opposition need to continue to deliver on the implementation of the Przino agreement and the Urgent Reform Priorities.”
    The Commissioner launched the new campaign on Human Resources ‘We believe in You, We invest in You, EU for You’ which supports employment, education and social inclusion.
     
    Source: European Commission – Daily News (20th of November 2017)

    Local and regional optimism for Social Democrats

    Denmark’s electoral gains and losses

    On 21st of November 2017, Denmark elected a total of 98 municipal councils and 5 regional councils. More than 11,000 candidates contested for 2,432 seats in the municipal council and 205 seats in the regional councils for the term of office 2018-21. The turnout was 70.8 percent. The previous elections took place in 2013.
     
    The Liberal Party (Venstre) of Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen suffered heavy losses. The center-right Liberal Party received 23.1 percent of the vote, 3.5 percentage points (-79 seats) less than in 2013, meaning a reduction from 767 to 688 seats.

    The Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterne) gained 2.95 percentage points (+69 seats) and came to 32.45 percent. Thus, the party won the leadership in four of the five Danish regions and in 50 of the 98 municipalities. The party remains strongest in major cities in and around Copenhagen. Subsequently, Frank Jensen will continue to serve as mayor of Copenhagen. Furthermore, in the city of Aarhus the Social Democrat mayor Jacob Bundsgaard was re-elected. Coalition talks are still ongoing in some municipalities.

    Frank Jensen, mayor of Copenhagen

    The Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti) fell by 1.7 percentage points (-17 seats) to 8.8 percent, in contrast to some pre-election forecasts. In Copenhagen, the poor result for the DF means the party loses its vice-mayor mandate.

                                
     
    Source: www.usnews.com and www.thelocal.dk

    IRE conference on cross-border transport, logistics solutions and distribution centers in the regions

    Expert-Conference on optimizing the distribution of goods in the regions
    Increased cross-border trade and increased traffic in Europe present major challenges for regions and cities. The Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) dedicated an expert conference on “Transport & Logistics – Optimization of the distribution of goods in the regions” on 09th of November 2017 in Opatija, Croatia.
     

    „There are gaps which need to be closed“

    IRE-Chairman Franz Schausberger opened the conference in front of more than 85 participants from over eight European countries in Opatija, Croatia. Schausberger pointed out, that a Transport Association Agreement with five Western Balkan countries was signed at the Western Balkans Conference in Trieste on 12th of June 2017, which is also of particular importance for Croatia. This will pave the way for infrastructure improvements and better transport services throughout the region, bringing new investors to the region and contributing to their economic growth. Finally, this treaty will help the countries of the Western Balkans to strengthen neighborly relations, in particular with Croatia, to promote cross-border cooperation and, ultimately, to bring these countries closer to the European Union. Schausberger informed that at the summit in Trieste seven new additional connectivity projects with a total investment of more than 500 million were decided. Thus, the total connectivity financing since 2015 for a total of 20 investment projects amounted more than 1.4 billion euros.

    Infrastructure as a sustainable investment

    The infrastructure is crucial for Croatian tourism. It is important to modernize the way to Central Europe. The expansion of rail transport and the development of motorways (Rijeka-Zagreb-Wien-Budapest) play hence a decisive role. Collaboration with other ports is central to import and export. Increasing ocean traffic to the nearest port cities (Trieste, Koper, Rijeka), to the Black Sea and Baltic states is of immense importance. The aim is to promote regional specificities and to extend transport corridors (including Corridor Five and Ten). Croatia is open to enhanced cooperation and relations with the European Union is of key importance to the Primorsky-Gorski Kotar region, stressed Zlatko Komadina, President of the Croatian region Primorje-Gorski Kotar. The Deputy Mayor of Opatija, Vera Aničić, agreed that Opatija would not be so developed without its transport and that the consideration of the regions in the transport industry is a necessity.
     

    The European way leads into the rural regions

    Branko Baričević, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Croatia, stressed in particular the importance of cross-border cooperation and the transport corridors of individual countries in order to maintain competitiveness in the European Union. He also referred to the “clean” transport to maintain the high standard.
    EU projects are powerful tools to address the challenges, priorities and needs of the CEI Member States, underlined Paulo Dileno, CEI-Project Manager for EU-Transport Projects in Trieste, Italy. Since 2004, the CEI Secretariat has implemented 29 projects with a total value of about 53 million euros, in fields such as transport, energy, research & innovation and culture. Currently, 14 projects are under implementation, with a total value of 24 million euros. These are mainly funded by INTERREG programmes and largely focus on transport issues. Furthermore, Dileno referred to the project ACROSSEE, led by CEI between 2012 and 2014, focused on enhancing the accessibility and overall efficiency of the South East European transport network. ACROSSEE supported the definition of a transport model for the entire area, as well as an Action Plan for Border Crossing Points and bottlenecks. As a follow-up of ACROSSEE, the project ADRIPASS will start next January. In addition, Dileno pointed out to another project called CONNECT2CE, which focuses on improving multimodal passenger transport in border regions.

    From left: Paolo Dileno (Project Manager for EU-Transport Projects of the Central European Initiative in Trieste, Italy), Vera Aničić (Deputy Mayor of Opatija, Croatia), Franz Schausberger (IRE-Chairman, Austria), Zlatko Komadina (President of the Region Primorje-Gorski Kotar, Croatia) and Branko Baričević (Head of European Commission Representation in Croatia)

    Cross-border opportunities – Port Rijeka can gain international importance

    In order to facilitate cross-border development, investments in the development of Mediterranean corridors, in ports and in rail transport are of great benefit. The EU supports these investments, said IgorRadić, Advisor to the Minister of Sea, Transport and Infrastructure in Croatia. Although the port of Rijeka is currently of relatively low international importance, it may increase in the future if there is a large-scale shift of global freight flows to the Mediterranean, if the port itself is modernized, logistics improved and if hinterland connections are enhanced, highlighted Helmut Adelsberger, CEO of InfraConceptA in Vienna, Austria.
    The planning of cross-border traffic and transport chain still requires  faster implementation on what is agreed on the political level, emphasized Matjaž Vrčko, representative of the Slovenian Ministry of Infrastructure. In addition, he referred to the use of existing infrastructures and their modernization before new large investments are made. Therefore, transparency among the Western Balkans, the EU Member States and the European Commission is needed to ensure a legal base. The European Commission strongly supports the South-East European (SEE) Network, with core corridors to the Western Balkans which are inevitable, Vrčko further supplemented.
     

    From left: Matjaž Vrčko (Representative, Slovenian Ministry for Infrastructure), Larry Ambrozich (Moderation), Helmut Adelsberger (CEO, InfraConceptA, Austria) and  Igor Radić (Advisor to the Minister, Ministry of Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Croatia)

     

    Logistics industry is undergoing structural change

    Transport and logistics are decisive development and competitive factors of economic areas, explained Beatriz Schönstein-Wippel, Project Manager in the Transport and Logistics Industry of the Foreign Trade Austria of the Austrian Economic Chamber. The logistics industry has changed structurally, and partnerships between regional and international logistics providers within supply and value chains are becoming increasingly significant. This is essential in order to survive in global competition. The global, steady expansion of infrastructures and capacities such as traffic routes, logistics terminals, ports, Internet etc., is urgently needed. For example, only half of the demand for railway infrastructure between the EU and China is met. Here, the compression and adaptation to multimodal transport and transport concepts is increasingly substantial, taking into account ecological considerations. Green Logistics aims to reduce the environmental impact and sustainability of the entire process.
     

    Transport corridors as a bridge to the EU

    The Croatian Chamber of Economy has a particular focus on transport and logistics domain, with the city of Rijeka inter alia being an important transport hub. Rijeka is home to the largest Croatian port and its traffic corridors are of great importance to Croatia and the EU as it connects two major European territories with the rest of the world. Because of its size and importance, it has been designated a port of special international and economic interest to the Republic of Croatia, said Zlatko Mičetić, Senior Advisor to the Croatian Chamber of Economy in Rijeka. The Chamber recognizes the need for a modern logistic solution for the transport sector and has developed a project entitled “Digitalization of intermodal and multimodal transport of goods and passengers”. The project, presented at the ASCAME conference in Barcelona this June, was submitted to the Adriatic & Ionian Initiative as a key development project for the region.
    In order to develop, above all, investments are needed, emphasized Damir Vukić, Managing Director of Rail Cargo Logistics in Croatia, and mainly referred to the port Koper, which is not able to cope everything, why the port Rijeka should be improved. Furthermore, railways should be able to transport more and heavier goods. In order to boost tourism throughout Croatia, functioning highways are the most important instrument. However, in order to grant this, Roland Raith from the Gebrüder Weiss Gesellschaft m.b.H in Graz, Austria, emphasized the importance of cooperation between the regions. In addition, Norbert Wenzel, CEO of Wenzel Logistik GmbH in Austria added, that political participation and collaboration are indispensable.
     
     

    From left: Norbert Wenzel (CEO, Wenzel Logistik GmbH, Austria), Damir Vukić (Managing Director, Rail Cargo Logistics, Croatia), Larry Ambrozich (Moderation), Beatriz Schönstein-Wippel (Project Manager for Logistics and Transport, Austrian Economic Chamber), Zlatko Mičetić (Senior Advisor, Croatian Chamber of Economy in Rijeka) and Roland Raith (Gebrüder Weiss Gesellschaft m.b.H in Graz, Austria)

     

    Transport systems must be considered pan-European

    If you look at the whole of Europe, you have to see EU policy as a whole space. The faster goods are transported, the more profitable it is. The merger of the various areas in Europe is hence an important cornerstone, among other things, to get financing from the EU, said Georg Krauchenberg, Managing Director of the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM).
    Looking at Croatia, the existing transport system is not adapted to intermodal transport, emphasized Ljudevit Krpan, Head of Department of Development, Infrastructure and Project Management in Rijeka, Croatia. Therefore, clear policy, regulations, logistics centers, industrial terminals, better containerization of goods and transshipment stations at railway stations are necessary improvements to build and modernize the transport infrastructure within the intermodal transport system. The key element that determines the competitiveness of individual ports within Europe is the reliability of the service and transport links with the hinterland, i.e. the connection and integration with the network of the main European transport corridors. The implementation of the alternative scenario depends on investments in port and transport infrastructure.
    Europe is connected and the infrastructure of Croatia needs to cooperate with partner countries. Above all, it is important that there is no competition between Rijeka and companies in Zagreb. The requirements of various cities, such as Zagreb, to connect to the traffic corridor are given and offer many opportunities. Subsequently, a central transshipment point of goods is crucial to drastically shorten, among other things, the long waiting times. Centers must therefore necessarily network, pointed out Franz Glanz, Managing Director of the Cargo Center Graz in Austria.
     

    From left: Ljudevit Krpan (Head of Department of Development, Infrastructure and Project Management in Rijeka, Croatia), Lidija Šušak (Moderation), Georg Krauchenberg (Secretary General, Institute of the Danube region and Central Europe- IDM, Austria) and Franz Glanz (Managing Director, Cargo Center Graz, Austria)

     
     

    More conference pictures can be found here

    IRE visits the Inter-Municipal Development Center (IDC) in Slovenia

    Slovenian municipalities are collaborating for sustainable cooperation

    IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger, together with Board of Trustees Member Bernd Petrisch and the IRE-team, visited the Inter-Municipal Development Center in Grosuplje on 8th of November 2017. In addition to the mayor of the municipality Peter Verlič and the municipal director Dušan Hočevar, the deputy mayor of the municipality Ivančna Gorica, Tomaž Smole and the municipal director of the municipality Trebnje, Janez Pirc, participated in the meeting.
     
    From left: Tomaž Smole (Deputy Major of Ivančna Gorica), Franz Schausberger (IRE-Chairman), Peter Verlič (Mayor of Grosuplje), Dušan Hočevar (Municipal Director of Grosuplje) and Janez Pirc (Municipal Director of Trebnje)
     
    Schausberger emphasized that the EU provides support programs for cross-community cooperation. He sees the best opportunities for application in the EU in terms of cultural heritage and projects related to nature, as these features should be highlighted in all three communities. The theme of the former railway line Ljubljana-Kočevje and the archaeological site Magdalenska Gora also came up.
     
    The IRE member regions Grosuplje and Trebnje joined together a little over a year ago with the neighboring municipality Ivančna Gorica to found the Inter-Municipal Development Center (IDC). The aim of this cooperation is to apply for various European subsidies as promoters in order to guarantee sustainable development.

    Novo Mesto: Center for Historical Heritage, Industry and Sport

    The development of the successful economy and the export – for example in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries – the development of public transport, tourism in the field of industrial heritage, archeology, sport as well as an ambitious Roma project are the focus of the Slovenian municipal politics of the City of Novo Mesto. Mayor Gregor Macedoni explained this on the occasion of a visit by IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger and IRE Board of Trustees Member Bernd Petrisch to the regional center in the southeast of Slovenia on 10th of November 2017.

                

    from left: Franz Schausberger (IRE-Chairman), Gregor Macedoni (Mayor of Novo Mesto) and Bernd Petrisch (IRE-Board of Trustees Member)

    Novo Mesto has a significant historical heritage, beautiful historic buildings that require extensive refurbishment. Currently, the historic town square is being extensively renovated. In addition to the natural landscape in the area, the important archaeological finds from the Hallstadt period, the location on the Amber Road, the historic industrial heritage, the various sports facilities are particularly suitable for the development of tourism. However, suitable hotels and restaurants are still missing, said the mayor. Work is being done on a comprehensive mobility concept that includes a parking system, car-sharing and public transport on demand. The city also aims to set up private faculties in the fields of information technology, industrial engineering and health.

    The two representatives of the IRE and the mayor of Novo Mesto have agreed to work together again in those areas where the IRE has been successful in the past and can establish contacts with other cities.

    Victory of the Conservatives and Liberals

    Regional elections in Slovakia on 4th of November 2017

    The Debacle for Social Democrats and right-wing extremists in regional elections in Slovakia 
    On Saturday, 4th of November 2017, a total of 4.4 million voters in the eight regions of Slovakia were eligible to vote for regional parliaments. At the same time, the eight regional presidents were elected by direct election.

    The Social Democratic Smer (direction) of the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has suffered a severe setback in the regional elections. According to the preliminary final result, Smer lost four out of six regional presidents. The main loser is extremist leader Marian Kotleba, who lost his post as president of the Banska Bystrica region. Against Kotleba and two other parliamentarians is being investigated for extremism allegations, and steps were taken to ban the party. Worse than for Kotleba it ran for his party. The party moves into two out of eight regional parliaments, with only one representative each. At the national elections a year and a half ago, the party came to eight percent.
     
    With the vote, the Social Democrats have lost their dominant position at the regional level. So far, they had ruled in six out of eight regions, in future only in the western Slovak region of Trencin and the adjacent region of Nitra.

    The right-wing extremist “People’s Party – Our Slovakia” (LSNS) is also among the losers in the polls. In the 2013 regional elections, she surprisingly won the post of regional president in Banska Bystrica, the largest region in the country, with low voter turnout. The LSNS was also able to establish itself at the national level and in 2016 also joined the national parliament with 14 mandates.
    Kotleba was clearly voted out in Bystrica, he came only to 23 percent of the vote. The non-party entrepreneur Jan Lunter, who had united a common front of democratic forces, outclassed the incumbent by over 20 percentage points. Even in the neighboring region of Nitra, where a success of the LSNS Vice President Milan Uhrik was feared, the revolution failed to appear. Uhrik only got 15 percent of the vote.
    The clear winner of the regional election is the right-wing conservative and neo-liberal opposition of Slovakia, who were given little chance of success before the poll. Since the introduction of the eight regional administrative circuits in Slovakia over 16 years ago, it has never ruled more than two regions, now it will be five.

    In the Bratislava district, surprisingly, Juraj Droba prevailed over neoliberal and Eurosceptic freedom and solidarity party (SaS). Also, analysts gave him little chance. The favored nonpartisan ex-mayor of the capital, Milan Ftacnik, also supported by the Smer, finally landed only in third place.

    Ing. Erika Jurinová becomes the first regional president in Slovakia 
    Candidates of the opposition “ordinary people” (Olano) won highly in the regions of Zilina and Trnava. Erika Jurinova (Olano, SaS and KDH) defeated Smer vice-president Juraj Blanar in Zilina by 14 percentage points, which will also give Slovakia the first female regional presidency. In Trnava, Olano candidate Jozef Viskupic defeated the joint candidate of the Smer and the nationalist SNS, Tibor Mikuš, by twelve percentage points.
     
    The surprises of the election were the East Slovak circles Presov and Kosice. In Presov, the Christian Democrat mayor Milan Majersky prevailed against nominated by the sumer incumbent Peter Chudik, who had been continuously in office since 2001. Extremely exciting was the counting of votes in the district of Kosice, where the acting mayor of the regional capital Kosice (Kaschau), Richard Rasi (Smer), was eventually beaten by the opposition candidate Rastislav Trnka. Not even 0.6 percentage points.
     
    Surprisingly positive was the unusually high turnout of almost 30 percent, nearly ten percentage points more than in the 2013 regional election.
    Many Slovaks are now also aware that the regional administration plays a not insignificant role in their daily lives. This year, a total of 1.25 billion euros is available to the regions as a budget. Among other things, the regions manage a road network of around 14,000 kilometers and decide on the financing of school, health, cultural and social services in their area.
     

    The new regional presidents of Slovakia:
                
     
    Source: APA (AFP) and www.wikipedia.org

    Center-right party in Sicily elections shortly ahead

    Sicilian mood test before parliamentary election

    In the regional elections on 5th of November 2017 in Sicily, a narrow victory of the center-right camp is emerging. 4.6 million of eligible Sicilians voters elect a new parliament and a regional president for the autonomous region. The voter turnout was with 48 percent below expectations
     
    Five candidates striving for the post as the Regional President. Nello Musumeci of the center-right party (Coalizione di Centrodestra, alliance of Berlusconi’s “Forza Italia”, “Lega Nord”, and right-wing party “Fratelli d’Italia) is with 38 percent ahead of its competitor of the Euro-critical five-star movement (Movimento 5 digits), Giancarlo Cancelleri, who scored 36 percent of the vote.

    The center-left candidate, Fabrizio Micari (Coalizione di Centrosinistra), has to content himself with 18 percent of the votes. The anti-mafia politician and left-wing candidate Claudio Fava (Coalizione di Sinistra) came to seven percent of the vote.
     
    Source: www.derstandard.atwww.usnews.com, www.rainews.it and www.nachrichten.at

    Schausberger presents his newly published historical book

    Austria’s historical gap is closed

    Recently, Franz Schausberger had presented his book about Rudolf Ramek, the first Chancellor from Salzburg, to the Austrian Vice-Chancellor Wolfgang Brandstetter, who showed great interest in the biography of one of his predecessors as Minister of Justice. After seven years of research, Schausberger handed over his book to Governor Wilfried Haslauer at the end of October, who was pleased to see that Austria’s history was largely illuminated between 1918 and 1927.

    “One thing is undeniable as an important insight from this book: with consensus-oriented politicians like Rudolf Ramek, the First Republic of the irreconcilable opposites would have taken a different path,” said Schausberger. Looking at the agenda that the Ramek government had to cope with in the mid-twenties of the last century, it reminds us of Austria’s situation at the beginning of the 21st century.

    The book by Franz Schausberger “Rudolf Ramek 1881 to 1941. Consensus Chancellor in the Austria of Opposites” (Original: Rudolf Ramek 1881 bis 1941. Konsenskanzler im Österreich der Gegensätze)  was published by Böhlau Verlag in October 2017.


    Schausberger with Salzburg’s Gouverneur  Haslauer (left picture) and with Justice Minister and Vice Chancellor Brandstetter (right picture)

    Source: Landeskorrespondenz Salzburg 

    IRE- Expert Conference on “Logistics & Transport” in Croatia

    Optimazation of the distribution of goods in the regions

    For the seventh time, the Institute of European Regions (IRE) is organizing an International Expert Conference which is devoted to the topic of “Logistics & Transport – optimization of the distribution of goods in the regions”. Venue is the Culture and Tourist Centre GERVAIS in Opatija, Croatia.

    Aim of the conference is the presentation and communication of guidelines for Westbalkan countries on “transport and logistics issues – optimize cross-border facilitation”

    Registration          Program         Save the Date

    IRE publishes latest “NewsRegion” Issue

    Worth-knowing from the Regions

                    <– scroll & download (pdf)

    Bosnia and Herzegovina: council adopts conclusions and confirms the continuation of Operation Althea

    The European Council adopted conclusions on Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Council reiterates its unequivocal commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU perspective as a single, united and sovereign country. The Council regrets that a divisive rhetoric rooted in the past and an early electoral agenda have over the last months slowed down the pace of reform and affected the political climate.
    The Council also welcomes the continued presence of Operation Althea, which retains the capability to contribute to the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities’ deterrence capacity if the situation so requires while focusing on capacity building and training. In this context, as part of the overall EU strategy for Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Council confirms the EU’s readiness to continue at this stage the executive military role of Operation Althea to support Bosnia and Herzegovina’s authorities to maintain the safe and secure environment, under a renewed UN mandate.
    Read the full text of the conclusions 
     
    Source: Council of the European Union – Press Release

    Right-wing parties lead in Kosovo

     
    The right-wing coalition parties of Kosovo are leaders in the municipal elections, which took place on 22ndof October 2017 in 38 municipalities. However, in 19 municipalities, run-off elections are still needed because there was no clear decision. The date was set for 19th of November. 1.89 million people were eligible to vote, the voters-turnout was 43.79 percent.

    A right-wing party not in government, the Democratic League of Kosovo, or LDK, is leading in 10 town halls. The Serb (Srpska) List has declared victory in all 9 out of 10 Serb municipalities. Its leader and candidate for mayor of northern Kosovska Mitrovica, Goran Rakić, has won convincingly with 80 percent.

    Pristina’s incumbent mayor Shpend Ahmeti

    In 90 percent of the districts in capital Pristina, incumbent Mayor Shpend Ahmeti of the Self-Determination Party, also known as the Vetevendosje movement (VV), has won 43.42 percent of the vote, but not enough to avoid a runoff.
    International observers said that the voting process took place without any major irregularities.

    Source: www.balkaninsight.com, www.b92.net, www.rferl.org and www.washingtonpost.com

    Lombardy and Veneto voted for more autonomous rights

    The Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto voted on 22nd of October 2017 in referendums on more autonomous rights. Both regions do not want secessions, but more competences: in the economically strong regions of Lombardy, 95 percent (voters-turnout about 40 percent) and Veneto, 98 percent (voters-turnout about 59 percent) of the eligible residents voted for more autonomy against Rome.


    Luca Zaia, president of Veneto with Roberto Maroni, president of Lombardy

    Their aims are more competences for their regions and less tax payments to Rome. Both regions did not pursue independence or secession from the central state. The referendums on more autonomous rights were in line with the Italian constitution.
     
    Source: www.ilgazzettino.it, www.tagesschau.de and www.spiegel.de 

    Center Party wins municipal election in Estonia

    In Estonia, municipal elections were held in 79 government units on 15th of October 2017. More than 1.1 million registered voters have elected 1,729 local council members from 11,804 candidates at 557 polling stations. For the first time in Estonian election history, 16 years-old were able to vote in the 2017 municipal elections, representing more than 24,000 new voters.  53.3 percent of voters participated in local government council elections.

    The Center Party (Eesti Keskerakond), the main party of the Estonian ruling coalition, has clearly won the local election. Prime Minister Juri Ratas declared victory for his party that took 27.3 percent of all votes cast in 79 local councils across the nation, beating independent candidates and coalitions that came second with 26.8 percent of votes. The center-right Reform Party (Eesti Reformierakond) came third with 19.5 percent of votes. In the fourth place, the Social Democratic Party (Sotsiaaldemokraatlik Erakond) followed with 10.3 percent.

    The Center Party has received a clear majority in the city council of Tallinn and will thus continue to appoint the mayor in Estonia’s capital, which has been running out of its ranks since 2005. The highest voters-turnout was in the Võru county (60.1 percent), the lowest in Ida-Viru county with 46.7 percent.
     
    Source: news.xinhuanet.com, www.kov2017.valimised.ee and www.middletownpress.com

    SAVE THE DATE: 08th – 09th of November 2017: IRE-Expert Conference on “Transport and Logistics” in Croatia


     
    Further information can be found here

    Support for culture and social projects in Transylvania from Salzburg

    The International Salzburg Association (ISA), a platform for friends and supporters of Salzburg from all over the world, who feel particularly connected to the province of Salzburg, visited Transylvania in Romania from 28th of September until 1st of October 2017. The delegation was headed by Salzburg’s governor Dr. Wilfried Haslauer and met the mayor of Hermannstadt (Sibiu), Astrid Fodor. The ISA members were extremely impressed by the historical heritage and the great upturn of the city, especially since it was European Capital of Culture in 2007. Governor Haslauer guaranteed the mayor a support for young, talented artists as well as for a handicapped girl. Subsequently, the delegation visited several old fortified churches and finally came to Kronstadt/ Braşov.

    The young pianist Paul Cristian Ionescu and the Kronstadt student Sabin Păduroiu received support from the International Salzburg Association (ISA). Under the leadership of the Kronstadt City Councilor Cristian Macedonschi, the ISA delegation visited Kronstadt. Sabin Păduroiu studies medicine in Kronstadt and wants to provide a mobile blood donation facility with other young people from the Red Cross branch from the city. Currently there are no such facilities in Kronstadt / Braşov. The award of the symbolic check was carried out by Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger, ISA Honorary President, Chairman of the Institute of Regions of Europe and former Governor of Salzburg as well as Dr. Ing. Dieter Soltmann, ISA Vice President.

    Source: Allgemeine Deutsche Zeitung für Rumänien, 25th year’s issue Nr. 6216, 3rd of October 2017, Photo: Ralf Sudrigian

    Catalonia and the situation of the EU

    Plenary session of the Committee of the Regions in Brussels

    A debate with the President of the Council, Donald Tusk, on the situation of the European Union from the point of view of the regions and cities as well as a debate on the current situation in Catalonia were in the focus at the plenary meeting of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Brussels on 11th of October 2017.  Discussions of various opinions were at the center of the debates. Salzburg was represented in the EU Regional Council by Franz Schausberger and Landtag President Brigitta Pallauf.

    Franz Schausberger demanded a disarmament of the words from the conflict parties in Spain, a return to the negotiating table and the beginning of a dialogue which could only be a peaceful political solution in the end. In a situation such as it currently exists in Catalonia, there is never a single fault.

    The two representatives of Salzburg, Brigitta Pallauf and Franz Schausberger

    It cannot be satisfactorily solved either by constitutional violations or by force, nor by threats of the takeover of power by the central authority. The negotiations should ultimately lead to a strengthening of the autonomy of Catalonia, as it had already been decided by the Spanish Parliament in 2006 and eliminated again in 2010. Only this could lead to that all Catalans seeing their future in Spain and not in their independence. President of the Landtag Brigitta Pallauf emphasized at the plenary session in Brussels how important the regions and their involvement in Europe were.

    The Committee of the Regions dealt, inter alia, with an opinion on the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which introduced a new infrastructure financing instrument for transport, telecommunications and energy. After reductions, 24.5 billion euro are available for investments in the transport sector, with more than eleven billion of which are reserved for cohesion countries, i.e. Member States, where per capita gross national income is below 90 percent of the EU Community average. Money is available for transport projects to eliminate bottlenecks, establishing missing links and expanding cross-border sections, ensuring long term viable and efficient transport systems and optimizing the interconnection of the various modes of transport, improving the interrelationship of transport services and safeguarding the transport sector access to transport infrastructure.
    The CoR calls for a better integration of the regions. So far, EU grants totaling more than 700 million Euros have been awarded for Austrian transport projects, which account for about 94 percent of the rail infrastructure area, in particular the Brenner basin tunnel and the Koralm railway. In addition, comments on traffic issues, the monitoring of environmental requirements, the financing of climate protection, the development of a European data management system, the protection of minor migrants and the European Semester 2017 were discussed.

    Source: Salzburger Landeskorrespondenz and Liaison Office of the Region of Salzburg to the EU in Brussels

    CEI Committee met during the IRE-Conference in September 2017 in Salzburg

    In connection with the 13th Conference of European Regions and Cities (24-26 September 2017), the Central European Initiative (CEI) under the Belarusian CEI Presidency held a meeting on the 25th of September 2017 in Salzburg. The Institute of the Regions of Europe has a long-standing-cooperation with the CEI. During the 5th meeting of the Committee of National Coordinators (CNC) the revision of the CEI guidelines, the rules of procedure and the content of the new CEI action plan were discussed.

    In addition, efforts have been made to strengthen relations with Member States and with international institutions. Forthcoming events of the CEI presidency, the UN General Assembly session in September 2017 in New York and the Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology on the 26th of October 2017 in Minsk were discussed.

    For more information please visit: www.cei.int
     
    Source: http://www.cei.int/content/cei-committee-national-coordinators-gather-salzburg

    Victory for Putin’s party “United Russia”

    Local and regional elections in Russia 2017:

    On Sunday, 10th of September 2017, the citizens of Russia elected local councilors and governors. 40 million inhabitants have voted in 82 of the 85 regions of the Russian Federation. No election took place in Saint Petersburg, in the Republic of Ingushetia as well as in the Magadan region.

    A total of 16 new governors were appointed and in some of them (in Moscow, for example) also the office for the city council or district council. 36,000 seats were awarded and 88,000 people ran for the election. Almost everywhere, the candidates of Putin’s Kremlin party “United Russia” were ahead.

    In Moscow, where the voter-turnout  was 14 percent, deputies were elected in 124 district parliaments. 7,500 candidates applied for a total of 1,502 seats. The party “United Russia” won with 76 percent of the votes and reached 1,151 seats. The social-liberal party “Jabloko” was second-placed with 11.9 percent of the votes and subsequently reached 177 seats. The Liberal Party has thus increased its seats by seven times (25 seats so far). Third place went to the numerous independent candidates with a total of 7.2 percent of the votes.

    In the governor’s elections in 16 Russian regions, the participation rate between 30 and 80 percent was comparatively much higher. The candidates of the Kremlin-based party “United Russia” were victorious in all governor elections. The governors received between 60.5 (in Tomsk) and 89 percent of the votes (in Mordowa). In the 17th region, Adygea, the governor was elected by the regional parliament.

    In the elections to six regional parliaments (in Northern Ossetia, Udmurtia, Krasnodarsk, Pensa, Saratov and Sakhalin) Putin’s party reached between 44 and 70 percent. The second and third place went to the Communist Party of Gennady Zyuganov (between eleven and 14 percent) and the Liberal Democrats of Vladimir Zhirinovsky (between seven and thirteen percent).

    The election was considered to be a mood barometer for the Russian presidential election on March 18th, 2018. It is expected that Putin will run for a fourth term of office.
     
    Source: www.wikipedia.org, www.jungewelt.de, www.deutsch.rt.com and www.spiegel.de

    Western Balkans: Juncker’s speech triggers “positive excitement”

    24th – 26th of September 2017: 13th CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN REGIONS AND CITIES in the Salzburg Congress
    Ministers from the Western Balkan countries are responding at this year’s 13th Conference of European Regions and Cities to the statement by the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, according to which the EU will have more than 27 members by 2025. Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn urges reforms.
     
    What is the EU’s position on enlargement? “We want to complete what is obvious”, said EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn during the 13th Conference of European Regions and Cities organized by the Institute of European Regions (IRE) in Salzburg on Sunday, 24th of September 2017. The six countries of the Western Balkans Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania should, according to Hahn, become members as soon as possible. The speech by President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, on the State of the Union in September has provided “positive excitement” in this regard. Juncker has stated in his speech, that in 2025 the EU would have more members than today. It is of great importance to use the dynamics in the momentum, says Hahn towards the accession aspirants of the countries to make the states ready for the EU. 2025 is a “moving target”, but there are no speed restrictions.
     
    Commissioner Hahn, who held the keynote speech on the first panel discussion on the topic “The Next Generation of EU Member States”, considers important challenges in the lack of economic cooperation among the countries of the region and the high unemployment rate. The latter leads to the fact that the well-qualified are going abroad and the less qualified are left frustrated. However, increased trade between countries and the reduction of regulatory hurdles could be used not only with a view to economic prosperity but also as a test run for the later extended EU single market: “The daily work would be, in fact, a real preparation”, says Hahn, who also strengthens the rule of law. Foreign investors, as well as domestic companies must be able to rely on an “independent judiciary that works correctly and without corruption”. Corresponding positive developments regarding the rule of law should now be “consolidated”. Justice Minister Wolfgang Brandstetterpointed out, that in the fight against the corruption of aws alone are not enough, and however, this can only be implemented by independent courts as well as well-trained judges and prosecutors. Herewith the Western Balkan countries can pick-up support from the EU.
     
    It sometimes fails at political will, Igor Crnadak, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina comments. On the one hand, when it comes to combating corruption, on the other hand, if EU enlargement is to be defined as a national and cross-party objective which is not sold for short-term political small pocket money. Jadranka Joksimović, Serbian Minister for European Integration, sees the pillars of European integration in economic development and the strengthening of the rule of law. However, “Euro-realism” has replaced “Eurofanaticism” in the Serbian population. Nevertheless, she considers an accession in 2025 realistic for her country.

    Despite the fact, one should not forget the mood in the old EU, declared Montenegro’s Minister of European Affairs Aleksandar Andrija Pejović. The majority of Austrians, for example, do not want any new EU members, although Austria has benefited economically from the EU enlargement. The Brexit has also shaken the EU into its foundations, namely the idea of bringing the entire continent together. The EU is no longer the only option on the Western Balkans. “There are dangerous alternatives”, says Pejović, referring to the growing influence of Turkey and Russia in the region. The Western Balkans became a “geopolitical chess game” due to these increasingly popular foreign forces, including Islamic fundamentalist associations, the Vicepremierminister of Kosovo, Enver Hoxhaj, agreed. The refugee crisis – in 2015 most refugees came across the so-called Balkan route – had changed the situation.
     
    The panelists agree that Juncker’s speech sent an important message to the Western Balkans, especially that the expansion process continues. In Albania, which has been politically transformed into a reform of the judiciary, this momentum has been “triggered by the EU perspective”, says Odeta Barbullushi, Albanian Deputy Minister for European and Foreign Affairs.
      
    For Albania as well as the rest of the Western Balkans, it would have to be the goal and the motivation, added Hahn, “to be perceived by the other EU members as an asset and not a burden at the time of accession”.

     

    Burgenland-Election: SPÖ and ÖVP are equal

    In the Austrian state of Burgenland, the first round of the municipal and mayor elections took place on Sunday, 1st of October 2017. 81.05 percent of Burgenlanders from 171 municipalities have voted. Of the 3.143 municipal councils to be awarded, the SPÖ registered 1.461 (previously 1.411), the ÖVP 1.364 (so far 1.363) and the FPÖ 144 (previously 79) seats. The Greens remain the same with 27 seats, the Alliance List reached 45 (so far 39) seats, the NEOS one seat and other lists 101 city council mandates.

    After the end of the first elections, the Social Democratic Party and the Austrian People’s Party are now equal among the mayors and municipal councilors. In ten municipalities mayors changes took place: the SPÖ represent four and the ÖVP six of the local leaders. Both parties present 74 mayors after the election. Since no absolute majority has been reached in 19 municipalities, run-off elections will be held on the 29th of October 2017.

    In Jennersdorf, there will be a run-off between two ÖVP-close lists candidates. In Neusiedl am See and Bad Tatzmannsdorf there will be a run-off between the ÖVP candidate and the SPÖ candidate. In Eisenstadt the ÖVP, with 60.3 percent, built its absolute majority with 17 municipal seats, the SPÖ lost two seats and received seven seats. Member of the Landtag Mag. Thomas Steiner (see picture) remains the mayor of the state capital.

    State result of the municipal council (second table) and mayor elections (first table) 2017, 1st round:
       

    Source: www.diepresse.com, www.kurier.at, http://wahl.bgld.gv.at/wahlen/gr20171001.nsf, APA, http://www.eisenstadt.gv.at

    Numerous prominent regional and local politicians at the 13th Conference of European Regions and Cities in Salzburg






    DETAILED PROGRAM of the 13. Conference of European Regions and Cities: 24-26 September 2017

    For the detailed program please click here:

    Further information can be found here

    Investing in more than just education – Private institutions as a key factor for the Next Generation

    24th – 26th of September 2017: 13th CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN REGIONS AND CITIES in the Salzburg Congress

    Private colleges and universities are now an integral part of the education system for our Next Generation. They relieve some pressure on public education system. Some of these training facilities are very successful; others are struggling with great difficulty. The term “education” is preceded by a considerable transformation process. Questions of international and national quality assurance and control as well as educational standards, accreditations at European, national and regional levels, financing, remuneration of employees, are faced with increasing change.
     
    Strengthening human capital, investment aid, reform projects, social protection measures for sustainable and inclusive growth are indispensable issues, which are addressed by keynote speaker Frenyó V. László (Executive Dean of the Faculty of the Budapest Campus of McDaniel College, Budapest Campus, Hungary) at the IRE-Symposium “Private Higher Education Institutions – a Chance for the Next Generation“.
     
    The aim is to improve and increase the quality of higher education institutions in Europe and, above all, to develop national standards in order to meet the longer-term competitiveness of the European economy. The following panelists will discuss information about best-practice examples:
    Gerhard Aumayr 
    (Executive Dean of the University of Salzburg Business School, Austria)

    Gerhard Blechinger
    (Executive Dean of the University of Applied Sciences, Salzburg, Austria)
     
    Michael Nake 
    (Chancellor of the Paracelsus Private Medical University of Salzburg, Austria)
     

    Nedeliko Stanković
    (Rector of the European University „KALLOS“, Dean of the Faculty of Law and Chairman of Council of European University of Brčko District, BiH)
     
    Ludvik Toplak 
    (President Alma Mater Europaea, Maribor, Slovenia)
     
    The Member States are called upon to invest sustainably in education, to develop an integrated approach to the improvement of educational institutions, to introduce national qualifications frameworks as key competences and to promote tailored educational results.
     

    Growth, pioneering and innovative power – Start-ups as a success story for the Next Generation

    24th – 26th of September 2017: 13th CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN REGIONS AND CITIES in the Salzburg Congress

    Young people with innovative ideas used to require immense start-up capital and thorough marketing strategy to successfully implement their vision. Today, these visions are rapidly being popularized and crowdfunded through the Internet, which means that start-up companies can be realized through innovation and little effort. Key factors are access to the Internet, fabrication laboratories (FAB-LAB‘s) and co-working spaces.
     
    Developments show that start-ups are increasingly attracted to regions and that they are indispensable from the European Union’s political agenda. Irmfried Schwimann (Deputy Director General in European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SME’s, Brussels, Belgium) will as keynote speaker on “Start-Ups in the Regions – the Future for the Young Generation“ demonstrate, that start-up companies are now assuming an increasingly important role across sectors and regions. The EU promotes these innovative companies so that they can thrive beyond their country borders as well as be competitive on the international market.
     
    For this topic, the following panel representatives will discuss the extent to which start-ups in rural areas can successfully create new jobs and counteract rural depopulation. Furthermore, proven and tested practical examples will be presented and further steps for the promotion of rural start-ups in the EU will be proposed.
     
    Marc Fähndrich 
    (Consultant for the European Semester of economic policy coordination, Representator of the European Commission in Austria)
     
    Walter Haas
     (Director of ITG Salzburg, Austria)
    Nenad Moslavac 
    (Co-Founder & Managing Director Impact Hub Belgrade, Serbia)
     
    Samo Omerzel 
    (CEO Vendotel, Novo Mesto, Slovenia)
    Tadeusz Truskolaski 
    (Mayor of Bialystok, Professor at the University of Bialystok, Member of the Committee of the Regions and Triple Helix Association, Poland)
     
    Nina Wöss
     (Partner of Speedinvest GmbH, Munich, Germany)
     
     
    The program and further information can be found here
     
     
     
     

    Tackle aging in rural areas through targeted measures

    IRE Chairman Schausberger at the Demography Conference in Budapest:

    The demographic development is closely related to the geographic component. While population growth has been observed in the central areas and in the large urban centers, the population figures are decreasing in remote rural areas. Young people move into the centers, the number of children decreases, the older generation remains. This serious development of the aging of rural regions is urgently needed to be tackled throughout Europe through targeted measures, IRE Chairman Franz Schausbergerexplained at the EPP Conference of the Committee of the Regions in Budapest on September 8, 2017.

    The emigration from rural areas is increasingly being driven by women, as they do not have enough jobs and too little childcare centers are available. Also the supply of fast Internet connections, which are absolutely essential for home workplaces, leaves much to be desired. Additionally, there are unsatisfactory transport and infrastructure connections which are necessary, for example, that children can access higher education institutions in central locations.

    State Secretary Takacs Szabolcs Ferenc and IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger

    Schausberger referred to the exemplary master plan of the Austrian Minister for Agriculture, Rupprechter, to strengthen the rural regions and the emigration as well as called for greater attention to the emptying of the remote regions in EU regional policy.

    Immigration from rural regions to the urban centers, on the other hand, brings great problems, since they have too few apartments available, urban transport increases and education is additionally burdened, Schausberger explained. In the future, the regions would have to be given greater capacity to deal with the problem of emigration. This means, that the decentralization of competences and finances would be absolutely necessary, and that any kind of centralization only exacerbates the problem.

    President of the Hungarian Parliament Köver Laszlo with Franz Schausberger

    In addition to the conference, Schausberger met separately with the Hungarian Secretary of State for European Integration, Takacs Szabolcs Ferenc as well as with the President of the Hungarian Parliament, Köver Laszlo, on euro-political issues.


    Government Haradinaj has narrow majority in parliament

    New government of Kosovo:

    On Saturday, September 9, 2017, the new Prime Minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, presented his government to the Parliament. The government is based on a coalition of AAK, AKR, PDK, Nisma and the Serb List (10 members of the Serbian minority). It has the narrow majority of 62 of the 120 seats in the Parliament of Kosovo. The opposition from the LDK (Democratic League of Kosovo) and the radical nationalist Vetëvendosje (self-determination) had left the parliament before the vote.

    The new Prime Minister, Haradinaj, had held this function from December 2004 to March 2005 for several months, but resigned because he was accused by the UN War Crimes Tribunal. The trial ended with an acquittal. At the beginning of 2017 he was temporarily arrested in France on the basis of a Serbian arrest warrant.
    On 7th of September 2017 Kadri Veseli, head of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), was elected President of the Kosovo Parliament by a narrow majority of 62 of the 120 delegates.

    The new government’s priorities include:

    • Economic development of Kosovo
    • Health Care improvement
    • New jobs
    • Foreign investment
    • NATO accession
    • EU approach
    • Continuation of the normalization dialogue with Serbia
    •  Resolution of the open border questions with Montenegro

    Prime Minister:                                              Ramush Haradinaj (Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK)
    First Deputy Prime Minister:                         Behgjet Pacolli (New Kosovo Alliance, AKR)
    Deputy Prime Minister:                                 Enver Hoxhaj (PDK)
    Deputy Prime Minister:                                 Fatmir Limaj (“Initiative“/Nisma)
    Deputy Prime Minister:                                 Dardan Gashi (AKR)
    Deputy Prime Minister:                                  Dalibor Jevtic (Serb List)
    Minister of Foreign Affairs:                            Bahgjet Pacolli (AKR)
    Ministry of Internal Affairs:                             Flamur Sefaj (AKR)
    Minister of European Integration:                  Dhurata Hoxha (Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK)
    Minister of Finances:                                     Bedri Hamza (PDK)
    Minister of Justice:                                         Abelard Tahiri (PDK)
    Minister of Kosovo Security Force:                Rrustem Berish (AAK)
    Minister of Infrastructure:                               Pal Lekaj (AAK)
    Minister of Health:                                          Uran Ismaili (PDK)
    Minister of Culture and Sports:                       Kujtim Gashi (PDK)
    Ministry of Innovation and Enterprise:            Besim Beqaj (PDK)
    Minister of Education:                                     Shyqyri Bytyqi (Nisma)
    Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning: Albena Reshitaj (AKR)
    Minister of Diaspora:                                        Dardan Gashi (AKR)
    Minister of Agriculture:                                     Nenad Rikado (Serb List)
    Ministry of Local Government Administration: Ivan Teodosijevic (Serb List)
    Minister of Rural Development:                       Rasim Demiri (Coalition Vakat, KV)

    Source: https://www.evropaelire.org/a/28726123.html, http://infokusi.com/thaci-ramush-haradinaj-kryeministri-ri-kosoves/, http://derstandard.at/2000063758890/Kosovarisches-Parlament-hat-wieder-einen-Praesidenten and http://derstandard.at/2000063840277/Haradinaj-stellt-Kosovos-Parlament-seine-Regierung-vor


    Alternative energy sources as a guide for a sustainable future for next generations

    24th – 26th of September 2017: 13th CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN REGIONS AND CITIES in the Salzburg Congress

    Never before has a European policy on renewable energies been as important as today. Renewable energy sources have been actively promoted for decades by the EU’s energy policy. The EU Directive on Renewable Energies set binding targets for the EU as a whole and thus introduced a European overall settlement. In addition to increasing sustainable energy efficiency, the use of renewable energies in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of air pollution is one of the most important strategies to achieve this goal as far as possible.
     
    The forecasts and scenarios made in recent decades have in some cases greatly underestimated the potentials of the first generation of renewable energies. Now we have to go into the Next Generation of renewable energies, concentrating on decentralized and autonomous energy supply.
     
    Monika Weber-Fahr (Chief Operating Officer, SustainableEnergyForAll, Austria) will address these specific aspects of renewable energy supply as the introductory speakerof the panel discussion “The Next Generation of Renewable Energy“. Through alternative sources of energy, we do not only ensure a sustainable future for generations, but also achieve considerable economic importance; however, there is still room to expand its market share.
     
    In order to adopt these energy strategies, the following persons from industry and politics will discuss this topic in the panel discussion:
     
    Klaus Bergsmann 
    (Head of Group Sustainability Office, Erste Group Bank AG, Vienna, Austria)
     
    Plamen Dilkov 
    (Vice president at Confindustria Bulgaria, CEDEC – European Federation of Local Energy Companies, Alliance of the Producers of Ecological Energy, Sofia, Bulgaria)
     
    Gerhard Gamperl 
    (Head of Department Strategy, Corporate Development and Innovation, VERBUND AG, Vienna, Austria)
     
    Georg Rebernig 
    (Managing Director Environment Agency Austria, Vienna, Austria)
     
    Josef Schwaiger 
    (Councillor for Energy, Land Salzburg, Austria)
    The program and further information can be found here
     
     

    Investments in Serbia’s cities are key factors for GDP

    Local government debt in Serbia: Novi Sad most stable, Kragujevac at brink of bankruptcy

    Cities and local governments in Serbia owe the state roughly one billion Euros and are more than 300 million behind in paying matured obligations. The responsibility for the poor state of public finances lies with the local governments; however, the central government has intensified this problem. In 2011, a law was passed which distributes 40 billion dinars from the state budget to local governments, which led to difficulties of the state finances.

    The latest report by the Fiscal Council, underscores that the financial problems of cities and local governments jeopardize the public finances of the state and hinder economic growth. The analysis shows, that because too much is spent on subsidies and too little on capital expenditure.
    The Fiscal Council thoroughly analyzed the budgets of the four largest cities in Serbia: The capital city Belgrade has balanced household income and expenditure and pays its debts on time. Only a prerequisite to the financial problems would help to solve the massive public transport problems. The capital of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, Novi Sad, has more stable finances than Belgrade but lacks the money for investment. The city currently has a credible and fairly balanced budget and is paying its obligations on time. The city of Nis is in serious fiscal trouble, but can still get out of it if it is changing its method of managing public finances. Kragujevac is by far in the worst fiscal position, with debts at the end of 2015 that nearly equaled the annual budget.
     
    If the Serbian government does not take the necessary steps, the debts of local governments, which currently reach 4 percent of GDP, will force public finances into massive problems, according to the Fiscal Council.
     

    Source: http://www.euractiv.rs/ and http://novisad.travel/de/

     

    The local elections in Kosovo are about to start

    The President of the Republic of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, has decided to schedule the elections for the local self-government bodies on 22nd of October 2017.

    According to the President, setting the date for the local elections is within the statutory deadlines, because the recent local elections were held in November 2013 and the final election results were not certified until December 2013.
    Kosovo dissolved in 2008 from the Serbian Republic and declared its independence. Meanwhile, the majority, 23 of the 28 EU Member States, recognize the Republic of Kosovo. Kosovo is the only Balkan state yet to submit an application for EU membership. The IRE will report on the political developments of this year’s local election on the western Balkan Peninsula.

    Around 1.7 million voters were able to vote in the 34 municipalities in 2013, whereby the following persons were elected to the mayor’s office:

    You can find more information about the final election results 2013 here


    Source: www.europeanwesternbalkans.com, www.derstandard.de/international/kosovo andwww.kas.de/kosovo/de/publications/35945/

    Regional development plans against rural depopulation – concept to increase the life quality for the next generation

    24th – 26th of September 2017: 13th CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN REGIONS AND CITIES in the Salzburg Congress

    Since the theme of the rural exodus concerns the regions in all over Europe, the IRE focuses in this year’s 13th Conference of European Regions and Cities in Salzburg on this current matter. 

    The Austrian Federal Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Andrä Rupprechter, will be the highly topical representative of the IRE panel discussion “How to keep Rural Areas attractive for Future Generations”, who will, among other things, refer on the Masterplan for rural areas. “We need more equal opportunities for regions, we want more future perspectives for people living in rural areas” according to the minister, who takes position on this issue in Austria’s largest participation process in rural areas.

    Furthermore, emigration, especially of young people, into the large urban centers of Europe is an acute problem in many countries. This leads to the emptying of the rural regions and to serious problems in the larger cities. Concrete measures must be created to guarantee a sustainable and, above all, a healthy future for future generations.

    Introductory keynotes on this utterly important topic are held by Elisabeth Köstinger (Member of the European Parliament, President of the Eco-Social Forum Europe, Austria) and Thomas Stelzer (Governor of Upper Austria, Linz, Austria).

    Subsequently, in a panel discussion perspectives on this topic will be analysed. The following panelistswill provide information about the formation and future of rural areas:
     
    Caroline Fernolend 
    (Vicepresident, Mihai Eminescu Trust, Sighisoara, Romania)
     

    Alois Steinbichler
    (Director General Kommunal Kredit Austria AG, Vienna, Austria)
    Robert Thaler 
    (Head of Department I/5 Mobility Transport, Noise, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Vienna, Austria)
     
    Gerlind Weber 
     (Professor, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria)
     
    Kurt Weinberger
    (Director General of the Österreichische Hagelversicherung, Vienna, Austria)
     
     
    These dedicated entrepreneurs, as well as representatives of European, national and regional levels, are discussing ways to address the above-mentioned development in order to keep the rural regions attractive for the next generation.
     
    The program and further information can be found here
     
     
     
     

    IRE-Member Company launches campaign against soil consumption in Austria

    Österreichische Hagelversicherung warns against “concreting over“ the landscape

    Every day uncontaminated soil in the size of 30 soccer fields is re-sealed and destroyed.  The consequences of steadily increasing obstruction concern all Austrians, according to the Österreichische Hagelversicherung (Austrian Hail Insurance). Since the sealed soils can no longer store water, this leads to floods and high tide, but also to drought. Hence, the company presented its latest signing campaign against excessive land use in Salzburg on 24th of August 2017.
     
    If the development continues as before, Austria has no more agricultural areas in 200 years. Around 500,000 jobs in and around agriculture are at risk. In addition, Austria would become unattractive for tourists due to the destruction of the countryside, according to Kurt Weinberger, the chairman of the Österreichischen Hagelversicherung, who is also represented in the IRE-Economic Board. Mainly due to storms and floods, the insurance company expects this year a loss of 200 million Euros.
     
    Meadow, forest or farmland, which was once installed, is irretrievably destroyed, according to Weinberger. It should not be built on the outskirts of towns and cities but in the core areas:  ”This also means a condensation in the city. This ultimately leads to the fact that we can spare the most important basis for life, ‘soil’”, Weinberger continued. If nothing will be changed, an area as large as the entire city of Salzburg will be re-concreted every year in Austria, warns CEO Weinberger, who will address this problem as a panelist at this year’s IRE Conference of European Regions and Cities in September 2017.
     
    The Chairman of the Board of Management looks positively towards the ‘Master Plan for Rural Areas’, in which a considerably lower new conversion is provided. Environment Minister Andrä Rupprechter will hold a highly-topical speech at the 13th Conference of European Regions and Cities, organized by the IRE from 24th until 26th of September 2017 in Salzburg, where he will address this subject matter.

    More information on the campaign can be found at: www.bodenlos.info
     

    Source: www.tvthek.orf.atwww.orf.at and www.hagel.at  

    High-profile IRE conference with the 6 Foreign and European Ministers of the Western Balkans

    24th – 26th of September 2017: 13th CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN REGIONS AND CITIES in the Salzburg Congress
    IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger is pleased to announce that the 6 Foreign and European Ministers of the Western Balkans will participate in this year’s 13th Conference of European Regions and Cities. The aim of the EU’s enlargement policy is to unite the European countries in a common political and economic vision, which the IRE brings to the fore in the form of a conference. The EU enlargement strategy is therefore a crucial instrument for promoting political, economic and social reforms to consolidate peace, stability and democracy throughout the continent.

    EU-Commissioner of European Enlargement Negotiations and Neighbourhood Policy, Johannes Hahn, will as highly-topical speaker in the IRE-Forum ”The Next Generation of New EU Member States inform on the possibilities for the accession of the potential member countries to the EU.

     

    In this period, accession negotiations and their future for the next generations are one of the most central policy areas of the European Union. The focus lies now on the countries of the Western Balkans, whose following 6 Foreign and European Ministers will participate in the IRE forum as panelists to explain and discuss the future of the next generations of EU Member States:
     


    Igor Crnadak

       (Minister of Foreign Affairs, BiH)
    Klajda Gjosha   
    (Minister of European Integration, Albania)   
     

    Enver Hoxhaj

       (Foreign Minister, Kosovo)
    Jadranka Joksimović   
    (Minister of European Integration, Serbia)   
     
    Bujar Osmani
    (Deputy Prime Minister responsible for European Affairs, FYRO Macedonia)
     

    Aleksandar Andrija Pejović   

    (Minister of European Affairs, Montenegro)   
     The potential EU Member States provide positive contributions to economic, social and regional cohesion in Europe, which is why the development and integration of the West Balkans countries should be encouraged. The regions of South-East Europe have been experiencing considerable political, democratic and economic growth for more than 20 years through their approach to the EU.
     
    The program and further information can be found here
     
     
     
     

    VIVIANE REDING: New Member of the IRE-Board of Patrons & KLAUS MANGOLD: New Member of the IRE-Economic Board

    IRE extends its European Network:

    The Institute of the Regions of Europe and above all its IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger are pleased to announce that Prof. Dr. Klaus Mangold joined the IRE-Economic Board and Viviane Reding the IRE-Board of Patrons.

    Dr. Viviane REDING – Member of the European Parliament
    Viviane Reding (* 27. April 1951 in Esch an der Alzette, Luxembourg) is a Luxembourgish journalist and politician. She optained a doctorate in human sciences at the Sorbonne in Paris. After her studies, she worked as a journalist for the daily newspaper Luxemburger Wort.

    Reding has more than 25 years of professional experience in European politics. For the first ten year she was member of the European Parliament. From 1999-2004 she served as European Commissioner for Education and Culture and subsequently became the Commissioner for Information Society and Media (2004-2010). From 2010 to 2014 she was Vice-president of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. Since July 2014, she has been again a member of the European Parliament.

    In addition, Reding also pushed for strengthen the EU’s commitment to equality between women and men and consequently adopted a Women’s Charter. Moreover, Viviane Reding has also presented measures to improve the representation of women in boardrooms of publicly listed companies. A proposal for a directive on the strengthening of victims’ rights was also adopted on Reding‘s proposal. Furthermore, she played a very important part in promoting the Erasmus Mundus Program, which promotes student exchanges among the Member States. The “Year of the European Citizens” in 2013 was supervised by her. Hence, she has set herself the goal of bringing Europe closer to the citizens and a debate on the future of Europe.

    Prof. Dr. Klaus MANGOLD – Chairman of Mangold Consulting GmbH
    Klaus Jürgen Mangold (* 6. June 1943 in Pforzheim, Germany) is a German manager. He studied law and economics in Geneva, London, Heidelberg, Munich and Mainz.

    After having held various positions in German industries, he served as Chairman of the Board of Management and Member of the Board of Rhodia AG, a subsidiary of the Rhône-Poulenc Group in France, from 1983 to 1990. From 1991 to 1994 he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Quelle AG and from 1995 until 2003 he was Member of the Management Board of DaimlerChrysler AG. As a former member of the Board of Management of DaimlerChrysler, Klaus Mangold was responsible for the business unit Services and the Central and Eastern European markets of DaimlerChrysler AG. At the same time, he was Chairman of the Board of Management of DaimlerChrysler Services AG. In the years 2000 to 2010, Klaus Mangold was Chairman of the Eastern Committee of the German Economy.

    Klaus Mangold is a member of several supervisory and advisory boards, including Metro AG, Germany, Alstom S.A., France, E.ON AG, Germany, Continental AG, Germany und TUI AG, Germany. Klaus Mangold is also Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Bank Rothschild, Frankfurt. In 2003 Klaus Mangold founded the internationale Wirtschaftsberatungsgesellschaft (IWB)He is a member of the IRE with his company. Since 2005, Klaus Mangold has been Honorary Consul of the Russian Federation for Baden-Württemberg.

    Austrian Foreign Ministry publishes Integration Report 2017

    Integration as a central theme for a united Europe:

    For many years, the Institute of the Regions has been working closely with the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs. Each year the ministry produces a well-founded integration report.
     
    This year’s report provides a detailed overview of the current situation of integration policy and deals with the control integration as well as the accounting of refugee integration. A competent expert council prepared this annual report, which consists of a static yearbook and an integration report.

    A major part of the Integration Act (IntG) entered into force on June 9th  2017, with the aim of ensuring the rapid integration of persons entitled to asylum and subsidiary protection from the age of 15 (whose status has been awarded after 31 December 2014) as well as the integration of lawfully established third-country nationals.

    For a centralist or federalist Austria: Article by Franz Schausberger

    Salzburger Nachrichten (14th August 2017, Page 15)


    “Clean Energy for all Europeans”

    What are the meanings of alternative energy sources?  What do they you mean for future generations? The 13th Conference of European Regions and Cities of the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) will address this issue from the 24th until the 26th of September 2017 in Salzburg.

    Air pollution and unpredictable fuel prices are problems, against which the EU has already taken a number of measures to improve the situation of its citizens. The conversion of the EU from fossil and nuclear fuels to renewable energies helps to reduce greenhouse gases and create a coordinated energy union.

    Europe’s governments announced plans to create a coordinated energy union to further reduce dependency on fossil fuels. This does not only create economic advantages, but above all a sense of community, by which local citizens are more closely involved in their future energy.
     

    Next Generation – Which regional and local strategies will serve future generations?

    INVITATION

    The Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) has been devoting itself to the strengthening of regions and cities across Europe and the Western Balkan countries for more than a decade. We cordially invite you to the
                                          
    13th Conference of European Cities and Regions,
    from 24th to 26th of September 2017 in Salzburg
     
    To this IRE- event in the Salzburg Congress we were able to win top-class speakers, inter alia minister Andrä Rupprechter, EU-Commissioner Johannes Hahn, the 6 Foreign/European Ministers of the West Balkans  (Kosovo, Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina) as well as international participants.
     
    Our conference is devoted this year to the theme “Next Generation – Attractive Regions and Cities for Future Generations”Rural areas, renewable energy supply, start-up companies, new EU member states and private educational institutions are addressed and discussed.
     
    This conference brings each year around 250 political and economic decision-makers from different regions of Europe together.
    The participation in the conference is free of charge for IRE members, Sponsors, Regions, Cities, Municipalities, Diplomatic Services, Students and NGO’s.

     

    The program and further information can be found here
     
    If you arrive by private car, we kindly ask you to voluntarily calculate your Co2-footprint and compensate it (visit www.climateaustria.at). Thank you very much for your contribution!

     
    The IRE plans to organize this conference on the criteria of the Austrian Ecolabel

     
     
     
     
     

    The City of Ljubljana (Member of the IRE network) received URBACT Good Practice title for its “Citizens’ Initiative”

    On the 7th of July 2017 the IRE-member city Ljubljana received a good practice title for including citizens through its Citizens’ Initiatives service.

    The Citizens’ Initiative focuses on promoting direct communication of citizens with the Mayor and the City Administration. Through various communication channels (personal, via online media or via the web portal of citizens’ initiatives) citizens can submit issues, concerns and inquiries directly to the city government. Additionally, each month during the Open Doors Day, the mayor is personally available for talks with the citizens. Since last year, people can also get involved through the Information Office 65+ where comprehensive information on services and activities for the elderly and people with disabilities is available. This enables citizens to actively participate, to strengthen their sense of belonging and give feedback.  

    97 (out of 300) good practices were selected from 25 European countries. The City of Ljubljana saw this call as an opportunity to present Ljubljana’s good practices, to promote the recognition of the city, to deepen the participation in the creation of European policies in the field of sustainable urban development and to increase further cooperation with the EU.
     
    Source: https://www.ljubljana.si/en/news/ljubljana-received-two-urbact-good-practice-titles/

    IRE came under the top 10 of the European State Award 2017

    The IRE has participated in the competition of the Austrian Foreign Ministry for the European State Award. Over 70 applications were submitted and that IRE came under the top 10 through its importance of regions and cities in European politics and in economic development.

    Until today, more than 130 regions, cities, companies and cooperation partners have chosen the IRE as a principal interlocutor for the promotion and support of their interests on the European level.

    In addition, the liaison office of the region of Salzburg in Brussels (“EU Information”) as well as the EU citizens’ service/Europe Direct Salzburg (“EU your Vision”) took part. We congratulate the prize-winner Katharina Moser (“Route 28″) from Salzburg, to whom the prize went!

    The Europe State Award of the Federal Republic of Austria honours extraordinary commitment by citizens and organizations that promote greater European awareness and understanding of Europe. The European State Award, which is awarded for the third time this year, goes back to an initiative of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs (BMEIA) and is endowed with 10.000 Euros.

    Source: https://www.bmeia.gv.at

    The IRE proudly presents its “Economic Board” members



       

    Intermediterranean Commission General Assembly 2017 released international declaration

    To express the shared interests of Mediterranean Regions in important European negotiations, the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) Intermediterranean Commission encompasses the issues raised in all the Regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea. TheIntermediterranean Commission gathers around 40 Member Regions from 9 different EU member states and other countries (Albania, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Spain and Tunisia). During the latest General Assembly which took place on the 6th until 7th of July 2017 in Naples/Italy, a global declaration was adopted by the commission.

    The CPMR Intermediterranean Commission declaration contributes to the debates on the future of the EU, cohesion and the multilevel cooperation at basin level. It includes reflections on emerging strategies and initiatives, migration, neighborhood, youth, maritime affairs, tourism, climate, environment, water, energy and transports, amongst other themes. The General Assembly agenda reflected on following three main sections, which are outlined in the document:

    1. Future of the EU: Mediterranean views;
    2. Supporting emerging initiatives and strategies that can strengthen Mediterranean cooperation and governance towards sustainable development;
    3. Boosting sectoral policies at the core of regional sustainable development in the Mediterranean

    It is open to all the different sub-national levels in Mediterranean countries and focuses on the development of the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue and territorial cooperation, concentrating its efforts on transport and integrated maritime policy, economic and social cohesion, water and energy. Furthermore, it is calling for a macro-regional strategy for the Mediterranean and fostering the emergence of Mediterranean citizenship and improving migration policies.
    The Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) brings together 160 Regions in 25 States from the European Union & beyond. Representing over 200 million people, the CPMR campaigns in favor of a more balanced development of the European territory.
     

    For full content please see:
    Global agenda of the meeting

    Final Declaration Campaign 2017

    Source: http://cpmr-intermed.org
     

     

     

    New issue of the IRE magazine

     

     NewsRegion 45

                                

    Austrian Federal Ministry presents “Master Plan for Rural Areas”

    High up-to-date topic for this year’s 13th Conference of European Regions and Cities in Salzburg

    In the presence of more than 1,200 mayors, stakeholders and supporters, Federal Minister Andrä Rupprechter presented the master plan for rural areas. The Master Plan for Rural Areas is the program of a socio-political movement for a strong rural area. Austria’s rural area consists of the people who live and work in the country. For a successful future, more than ever people in the country and in the city must work actively involved.
    As the theme of the rural depopulation concerns the regions all over Europe, the IRE focuses on this topic in this year’s 13th Conference of European Regions and Cities in Salzburg: In a panel discussion, Elisabeth Köstinger (Member of the European Parliament), Thomas Stelzer (Governor of Upper Austria), Alois Steinbichler (Director General of Kommunalkredit Austria AG), Robert Thaler (Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Environment and Water Management), Gerlind Weber (University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna) and Kurt Weinberger (Director General of the Österreichische Hagelversicherung) will discuss on how to make rural regions attractive for future generations.
     
    “We need more opportunities for Austrian regions, we want more perspectives for people in the country”, emphasized Federal Minister Andrä Rupprechter concerning the master plan, which has emerged as the largest participation process so far in rural areas. Since the beginning of the year, more than 3,000 participants and experts from all over Austria have formulated concrete perspectives and measures for the future of rural areas. The spectrum of the strategic document ranges from digitization to decentralization, from energy development to the honorary office, from child care to culture, and from health to green care. ”The commitment within the framework of the Master Plan process shows that a new movement was initiated. Strong regions are not a matter of course, but our shared responsibility”, said the  Minister.
     
    Johanna Mikl-Leitner, Governor of Lower Austria, emphasized that “especially in digitization, deregulation and decentralization, there are great future opportunities for additional jobs in rural regions”. With the presentation of the Master Plan for Rural Areas, the implementation phase starts contemporaneously.  Support is provided by the former Governor of Lower Austria and IRE-Patron Erwin Pröll, who will coordinate the implementation measures as Master Plan patron.
     
    Source: https://www.bmlfuw.gv.at
     

     

    West Balkan Summit 2017 in Trieste: Establishment of the Western Balkans Regional Economic Area

    At the annual summit held in Trieste on 12th of July 2017 with the heads of state and government, foreign ministers and economic and transport ministers of the Western Balkans and six EU Member States (Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia) discussions on regional cooperation were conducted. The focus was on cross-border infrastructure projects in the transport and energy sector, the establishment of a common regional economic area and youth exchanges.

    The West Balkans still have prospects for an approach to the EU. In addition, a joint economic area of the countries of the Western Balkans will provide for growth and employment as well as more cross-border cooperation. Concrete measures for regional cooperation and the better connection of infrastructures, economies and people were agreed upon.
     
    The establishment of the Western Balkans Regional Economic Area aims at developing an area where goods, services, investments and skilled workers can move without obstacles. In this way, the market for potential investors is expanded into the region, providing access to nearly 20 million consumers. This promotes the economic attractiveness of the western Balkan regions, whereby trade relations with the EU can also be used. The concept will be put into operation through a multi-year action plan which included the dimensions trade, investment, mobility and digital market. To this end, measures to successfully implement the additional protocols to the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) need to be taken into account, a regional investment approach needs to be developed, obstacles to the mobility of qualified workers through the mutual recognition of professional qualifications needs to be removed, mobility for students, researchers and university teachers should be facilitated as well as extending roaming and broadband networks.

    Source: http://ec.europa.eu

     

    Schausberger again chairman of Western Balkans Working Group

    124th Plenary Session of the CoR

    IRE-Chairman Franz Schausberger was again appointed as Chairman of CoR Working Group “Western Balkans” during the 124. Plenary Session on 12th July 2017 in Brussels for the second term till 2020. The reason for the extraordinary re-appointment was the detailed expertise of Schausberger, who is well acquainted with the West Balkans and his long-standing commitment to the accession processes of these countries.
    Edi Rama (Prime Minister of Albania) with Franz Schausberger (Member of the CoR)
    The Working Group on the Western Balkans was created in 2006 and currently includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

    Its role is to provide CoR members with an instrument aimed at encouraging greater inclusion of the territorial dimension in the enlargement process for the Western Balkans region. The twelve CoR members of the working group meet with the representatives of the regions and municipalities at least twice a year in one of these countries and thus make a valuable contribution to the EU accession process of the West Balkan States.The next meeting of the Working Group is planned in autumn 2017 in Banja Luka, BiH.

    Source: www.cor.europa.eu and www.salzburg.wirtschaftszeit.at


    Karl-Heinz Lambertz elected President of the European Committee of the Regions

    “Europe’s future lies in its regions and cities”

    Schausberger expressed his congratulations to the newly elected President of the CoR Karl-Heinz Lambertz. On the 12th July 2017, members of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) elected Karl-Heinz Lambertz, Senator of the German-speaking Community of Belgium (IRE-member), as their new President for the next two and half years.

    President of the Committee of the Regions Karl-Heinz Lambertz and former Governor of Salzburg Franz Schausberger

    Given the many challenges in recent years, he argued that the EU needed to listen to citizens and “rethink from the ground” by giving a greater say to local and regional governments. 

    Laying out his presidency priorities, he said that the CoR will continue to analyze on the EU’s future and would fight to protect the cohesion policy. The President-elect committed to reinforcing the CoR’s ties with all of Europe’s cities and regions and strengthening relations across the EU’s institutions. 

    “Europe must urgently re-establish a true bond of trust with all its citizens by reinforcing policies that protect them and rethink how the EU works. Europe is rooted in its cities and regions. Being on the frontline, local and regional authorities must be given a greater say in deciding Europe’s future“, Lambertz said.

    Previous CoR-President Markku Markkula, who will take over as the CoRs’ First Vice-President addressed the plenary saying: “From the halls and chambers of Brussels, Bratislava and Amsterdam to the streets of Rome, Maastricht and even Marrakesh, we have shown that the EU’s renewal and rebuilding citizens trust begins with increasing collaboration and partnership between European regions and cities.“

    Markkula after serving a two and a half year term as President of CoR was now elected as First Vice-President. The election of President and First Vice-President is in keeping with the agreement made between the Committee’s two largest political parties – European People’s Party (EPP) and Party of the European Socialists (PES) – which ensures an equal share of the leadership during the five-year term of the office.

                                      

    Karl-Heinz Lambertz has been a PES-member of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) since 2001 and held numerous government ministerial posts between 1990 and 1999 before being elected its Minister-President (1999-2014). He was then President of the German-speaking Community Parliament until 2016.

    “Supporting start-ups locally to scale-up internationally”

    Supporting innovative entrepreneurship and dismantling the obstacles to its development through improved access to finance and the single market, better connections between regional entrepreneurial ecosystems and raising awareness about the need to give failed but honest entrepreneurs a second chance are the objectives of an opinion drafted by Tadeusz Truskolaski, Mayor of the Polish City Białystok. The opinion was adopted during CoR plenary session on 12th July.

    The opinion of Mr. Truskolaski therefore suggests to create new opportunities through:

    • Creating a start-up visa and a catalogue of conditions enabling a safe use of qualified intellectual and financial capital from third countries
    • Additional funding for start-ups to develop and protect intellectual property rights
    • Expanding the Enterprise Europe Network’s (EEN) range of services including advice on scaling up and cooperating more with local business incubators, science and technology parks
    • Creating a separate instrument dedicated to networking projects in less-developed regions
    • Encouraging new public procurement procedures exploiting the potential of start-ups and scale-ups
    • Establishing a European venture capital fund of funds
    • Creating innovation brokers linking buyers interested in innovative public procurement with innovative companies and helping them to access venture capital
    • Increasing the budget for COSME, the EU’s main instrument supporting the competitiveness of SMEs
    • Looking into the opportunities of and a regulatory framework for crowdfunding platforms
                                  
    From left to right: Franz Schausberger (IRE-Chairman), Tadeusz Truskolaski (Mayor of the Polish City Białystok) and Christian Buchmann (Member of the Styrian Parliament)  
     
    “SMEs will succeed through smart regulation”

    SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) access to public procurement, the Single Market and finance, SME-friendly VAT and taxation rules and striking a better balance between SME needs and labour, consumer and environmental protection are critical factors behind SME success in Europe. The “smart regulation for SMEs” opinion of the CoR rapporteur Christian Buchmann (Member of the Styrian Parliament) was adopted during the CoR plenary session on 12th July.

    SMEs are the main engines for growth and jobs in Europe, creating two out of three jobs and generating more than half of Europe’s economic production. Nevertheless regulation doesn’t always take into account the SME-specific circumstances, thus hampering local economic growth and innovation.

    “An SME-friendly regulatory environment is an essential precondition for establishing and developing successful businesses and generating more jobs and growth in Europe“, said rapporteur Christian Buchmann.

    Source: www.cor.europa.eu and www.salzburg.wirtschaftszeit.at

    “European Citizen Travel Card”: Schausberger (member of the CoR) for tourism and public transport

    14th Meeting of the Special Commission on Unionship, Governance, Institutional Affairs and External Relations (CIVEX)
     
    On 6th of July 2017, Austrian representatives in the Committee of the Regions (CoR) expressed their support for the introduction of the “European Citizen Travel Card” at the 14th meeting of the CoR commission for citizenship, governance, institutional issues and external relations (CIVEX).

    The free “European Citizen Travel Card” would have “a positive effect on Austrian tourism, unites citizens and at the same time allows discounted prices for Europeans, such as public transport and museums”, according to Franz Schausberger, CoR-representative of Salzburg, who represented the amendment introduced.

    From left to right: Danijel Marusic (regional president of Brod-Posavina), Nikola Dobroslavic (regional president of Dubrovnik-Neretva) and Franz Schausberger
     
    Topics such as refugee problems, the integration of migrants, and measures against populism as well as extremism in Europe were discussed. In addition, it was debated how to foster the cohesion of the 28 EU Member States and the European Union to bring people closer to the local level.

    In the discussion on “Reflecting on Europe” Markku MarkkulaPresident of the CoR, underlined the importance of stressing the role of the local and regional levels during citizens’ debates. Furthermore he told members that the local and regional levels are acknowledged more frequently to be the governance levels which can be operated more closely to citizens. Concerning the Rome Declaration that was signed by 27 Member States and all the EU’s key institutions, he underlined the importance of mentioning subsidiarity and acknowledging the need to work together on levels where it makes sense. Finally he stressed the need for the CoR to influence the renewal process of the EU in a pro-active way and to get in contact with all the political leaders through the CoR members. He concluded by reminding members that the future of the EU should be for and with the citizens.
     
    Karl-Heinz Lambertz, Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions, stressed that the debates are very important to see in which direction the EU should go and to decide on what the EU should look like in the future. He emphasised the importance of having diverse ideas but at the same time reminded members that it is also important to know how to realize them as it would be counterproductive to have a big report on the future of the EU but no ability to implement it. He also pointed out that there should not just be a discussion about competencies but also about their impact on citizens, about solidarity and financial resources. He concluded by underlining the need of going all together in the same direction.

    Arnoldas Abramavicius (Deputy Mayor of Zarasai/Lithuania, IRE-member) told members that as there are 795 municipalities in Armenia, most of these municipalities are very weak, have few financial resources and a very small range of services they can offer. He also reminded members that since 1987, Armenia is in state of war with its neighbouring country Azerbaijan. The local elections in Yerevan were held one month after the national elections, which is a reason that there were only three political parties participating in the elections. As a political comment he stressed that only 40 percent of voters participated in the Yerevan elections: an alarming sign which shows the high level of political apathy and mistrust in the political system, even on the local level.

    Source: liaison office of the region of Salzburg to the EU in Brussels and CoR

     
     
     

    What do new housing schemes offer? East Belgium presents a future project

    Demographic challenges for future living

    “My home is my castle – many Belgians live by this principle, especially in the East-Belgian region”, according to the German-speaking community of Belgium, represented in the IRE network. 98 percent of the East Germans between 60 and 79 years of age and 85 percent of people between 80 and 99 years live at home. The possibility to have alternative housing forms in old age should therefore be guaranteed.
     
    The event “Together is one less alone – What can alternative housing offer?”, which took place on 29th of June and 4th of July 2017, showed alternatives for seniors on the basis of a project. Around 80 interested persons were included in the two editions. During the implementation of the project, location marketing and the inclusion of people were seen as priority challenges for the future of East Belgium. This regional future approach, which is to be implemented by 2025, must particularly involve the young generation.

    To cope with these challenges, the focus was mainly on different alternatives to the usual forms of housing, such as the retirement home or the home for elderly. The goal is that seniors can determine and shape their future housing form themselves. Based on this, it can be said that alternative housing forms represent a suitable model against housing shortages in urban centers and vacancies in rural areas.

    Source: www.ostbelgienlive.be

    Braşov/Kronstadt and the city of Linz deepen their relationships

    IRE-member region as guest in Austria
    On the occasion of an event organized by the cultural association Carpatia the IRE-member region Kronstadt/Braşov visited Linz on 30th June 2017. After a first meeting of representatives Braşov/ Kronstadt with the city of Linz in the context of the last IRE conference in September 2016 in Salzburg and another meeting in spring 2017, the representatives of the city of Braşov / Kronstadt met with the cultural association Carpatia.
         

    The event was attended by Deputy Mayor of Linz Detlef Wimmer, a delegation of the city government, a representative of the Romanian Embassy in Vienna, Romanian Honorary Consul Wolfgang Berger-Vogel, the official delegation of Braşov/Kronstadt and, of course, many Romanians, who have chosen Linz and the state of Upper Austria as a new electoral home. “Kronstadt has impressed with dance, tradition, craftsmanship and good classical music” highlighted Cristian Macedonschi, city councilor in Braşov/Kronstadt and representative ofthe Democratic Forum of the Germans in Kronstadt.

    The meeting took place in the new town hall of Linz. Topics such as e-mobility, district heating, international relations and dual training as well as the future of the Kronstadt airport were discussed. In September of this year, an official delegation from Linz will travel to Braşov / Kronstadt to deepen the relationship between the cities. Meanwhile, a European mobility conferenceis planned in Braşov, where mobility specialists from “Smart City Linz” will also be speaking, according to Cristian Macedonschi.                                             

    For more information, please visit: www.brasovcity.ro
              

    Source: Office of the City Council in Braşov/Kronstadt and Romanian Cultural Association Carpatia

     

    Ukraine: Decentralisation success with many challenges

    CoR-Task Force on Ukraine met near Lviv. Decentralisation reform in Ukraine is
    currently focusing on the local level
    .
      

    Ukraine has made considerable progress in a relatively short period of time in fiscal and sectoral decentralisation: Amendments to the budget and tax codes have given local government new budgetary powers. In 2016, the local budgets of amalgamated communities amounted to 281 million UAH. Their own local revenues increased by three times compared to 2015. This increased municipalities’ ability to improve services and infrastructure.  It is necessary that the Ukrainian government keeps continuity in funding for the newly amalgamated municipalities. Constant changes of funding from central government to local government and changes in rules for tax revenues are counterproductive. To get used to the new conditions municipalities need reliable revenue flows.

    An outstanding voluntary amalgamation process of small municipalities reduced the high number of small municipalities and villages. The new hromadas (communities) formed so far might be the “low hanging fruits”. These communities often unite the most active mayors and citizens and their amalgamation was voluntarily. Within less than two years over 1800 municipalities have merged voluntarily to create 413 communities (“hromadas”), a number much higher than experts ever expected.

    Franz Schausberger with the mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyy
     Franz Schausberger with the mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyy
    For the remaining ones we expect much more difficulty. We must remember that hundreds more are needed, so the amalgamation process needs to be continued. Sectoral decentralisation in a number of sectors e. g. in the areas of health and education were implemented with others to follow.

    Major obstacles – such as inexperience of local authority staff, especially in managing budgets and legal uncertainties on the rights and responsibilities of new municipalities – must be accounted for Rayon/oblast state administrations continue to block local initiatives and substitute functions of local self-government bodies. There are still weak links between regional planning, budget management and project formulation and a lack of public oversight alongside low citizen awareness and trust.

    One key element of the support of the EU, including the Committee of Regions, is to share relevant experiences about successes, but also about risks and even failures. This sharing is about learning from each other, not copying. The system of government and responsibilities at different levels in EU Member States are very different, and reflect very different administrative traditions. Ukraine needs to finds its own system of checks and balances between national and local levels.
    It seems that there is a need for careful reflection on how to proceed further with the reform of state administration and self-government bodies at a regional level. A careful step-by-step approach is recommended. But Government and Rada (parliament) seem not to be capable or sufficiently interested in adopting legislation in support of the decentralisation process.

    The European Union supports the decentralisation reform not only with words but with concrete actions, with technical assistance and significant financial support. One of the main EU programmes is U-LEAD, a joint programme of the EU and its Member States Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Poland and Sweden. The EU is committed to support the reform process with significant amount of funds, exceeding EUR 200 million, mostly (102 million) from U-LEAD. The assistance is delivered through 24 Regional Centres all over Ukraine. These regional centres are very important platforms, providing tools to support the bottom-up dimension of the reforms. 

    The goal is to bring decision making closer to the Ukrainian people and in this way, helping Ukraine to build a more effective and transparent system of multi-level governance, ensuring benefits for ALL citizens. The Decentralisation process is crucial for achieving this result and, therefore, an integral part of the European integration process of Ukraine.

    These were the main results of the Third Meeting of the “Task Force on Ukraine“, organised by the European Committee of the Regions, held in Khyriv, Ukraine, on 30th of June 2017. IRE-chairman Franz Schausberger, in his capacity as special adviser of Johannes Hahn, Commissioner on enlargement and neighbourhood policy, mentioned in his speech the European Court of Auditor’s criticism that the EU funds unfortunately are not always allocated to the intended beneficiaries in a proper, transparent and impartial way by the national authorities of Ukraine.

     

     

    Bosnia and Herzegovina is becoming an economic interesting country for investors

    Relations between Austria and Bosnia-Herzegovina: Austria is the fifth-largest investor in the Republika Srpska
    The Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) organized on the 26th of June 2017 in Salzburg an international Panel Discussion on  “Bosnia and Herzegovina – the unknown partner for local and regional relations“, which took place in the International Salzburg Association.  In previous years, the IRE has arranged international panel discussions in various European countries to highlight the importance of interconnectedness and cooperation on municipal and regional levels.

     “Austrian companies have begun to settle in Bosnia and Herzegovina and companies from the West Balkans are on the best way to establish themselves in Austria”, said Dr. Franz Schausberger, Chairman of the IRE and Special Advisor to the EU, at the opening of the discussion. Apart from the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the “most complex governmental systems in the world”, according to Schausberger, Austrian companies such as NETQM have successfully established themselves in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) for more than 10 years. 

    Founded in 2005, the Austrian company Network Quality Management GmbH, headquartered in Grödig near Salzburg as well as Mreža Network Derventa d.o.o in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a leading high-tech full-service provider in the area of mechatronics with a production site that employs about 300 people. The supply network- which ranges from electronics, plastics technology, mechanics, metal processing to assembly and final inspection – cooperates with Audi, Bosch and SKIDATA worldwide. CEO and General Manager of NETQM Markus Strasser-Stöckl emphasized above all the well-trained employees in the West Balkan countries as a key factor to invest in Bosnia and Herzegovina: “I stand by the people: They stand for their unity and try to get an education as well as work in their country. The personnel costs are relatively low and most of the people, especially the young generation, are very well trained, which is not self-evident”.
                                      
    From left to right: Milenko Cvijanović (Dorector of MTEL Austria GmbH), Markus Strasser-Stöckl (CEO and General Manager Network Quality Management GmbH), Tomislav Leko (Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Austria), Franz Schausberger (IRE-Chairman and Special Advisor to the EU), Igor Davidović (former Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Washington and Brussels) and Mladen Filipovic (Head of the Representation Office of Republika Srpska in Austria)
     
    Since 2000, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a potential candidate for EU-membership. The overall state, however, is a complex construct which is divided into the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska. Within the country, there are always difficulties in finding a common position aligns with the EU.

    “It is hard to say whether we have the specific economic construction to become a member of the European Union, but we need to accept and accelerate those EU processes”, stressed Igor Davidović, former ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Washington and Brussels. This, above all, applies to investment in jobs to reduce unemployment. To achieve this, “regional cooperation between the various cities, cantons and municipalities is important, so that regions can be seen as attractive habitats and thus the rural exodus can be counteracted”.

    In contemplation to reduce unemployment in BiH, Ambassador of BiH in Austria, Tomislav Leko, emphasized the need to improve the conditions for foreign investors, the introduction of a free-trade zone as well as the development of transport corridors. “In pursuance to develop towards the EU, the country needs foreign investments, otherwise the development of the country is difficult to achieve. BiH needs an EU-integration process for transnational development”, added the ambassador.

    As an intermediary to promote the corresponding foreign investors in BiH, the telecommunication company MTEL Austria GmbH, which, according to the director, Dipl. Ing. Milenko Cvijanović, advises Austrian companies to invest in BiH. Based on this, the people from the West Balkan countries who live in Austria represent a “bridging-role” for outstanding cross-border relations.

    Mag. Mladen Filipovic, head of the Republika Srpska office in Austria, drew attention to the priority of persons living in Diaspora from BiH“BiH’s natural resources are its people”. It is only necessary to enter the country, which is accessible in just a few hours due to its central geographical location. Hence, this offers great advantages for companies. Additionally, a huge asset for investments are the “60 percent of jobseekers who have secondary or higher education”, says Filipovic and “30 percent of them are under 30 years of age”. To foster the entrepreneurial and economic potential of Austrian investments in BiH, low tax rates, low tax ratio of 33 percent of gross salary, cost-efficient labor and liberalized laws, have been provided to offers great incentives. Most importantly, the equal treatment of foreign investors paves the foundation for a successful economy.

    Dr. Franz Schausberger, summarized the discussed free trade zone of the West Balkans as a first step towards the EU. To establish themselves within the European market, competitiveness must be achieved. The EU offers funds to facilitate easier access to the market. The panel discussion organized by the IRE opened the possibility of promoting economic contacts between Austria and BiH and thus, according to former Ambassador Igor Davidović, leading BiH to “no longer be an unknown partner for Austria”.

                

     

    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.
     
     

    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: www.puls4.com und www.ogm.at

     

     


    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.

     Source:www.europaforum.atwww.bmeia.gv.at und www.salzburg.com

    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).

     

    Source: www.orf.at

    www.derstandard.at


    24th-26th September 2017: Salzburg Summit – “Next Generation – Attractive Regions and Cities for Future Generations”

    13th Conference of European Regions and Cities “Next Generation- Attractive Regions and Cities for Future Generations” in Salzburg, Austria. The annual Conference of European Regions and Cities will be organized on current themes for regions and cities of Europe with a view to future strategies and challenges for politics and business.

    Registration

    Hotel Booking

    Reasons to Participate

    Programm

    More information under:

    E: martina.balazic@institut-ire.eu         T: +43 (0)662/84 32 88 – 0

    F: +43 (0)662/84 32 88 – 5050               www.institut-ire.eu

    green-meeting_en

    Together with:

     

    Bildergebnis für land salzburg     Bildergebnis für stadt salzburg

     

    In Cooperation with:

       

          Bildergebnis für european commission Bildergebnis für european parliament       Bildergebnis für austrian development cooperation

     

    Main Sponsors:

    Bildergebnis für erste bank group logo  Bildergebnis für uniqa

     

    Sponsors:

    Bildergebnis für WKO    Bildergebnis für industriellenvereinigung  Bildergebnis für österreichische hagelversicherungBildergebnis für österreichische nationalbank                                    

    Bildergebnis für grohag logo       SMBS  Bildergebnis für SalzburgerLand Tourismus GmbH   Bildergebnis für salzburg ag logo

    Bildergebnis für apg    Bildergebnis für itg salzburg     Bildergebnis für standard salzburg agentur logos

    Environment Agency Austria         Bildergebnis für kommunal kredit logo

    FH Salzburg Logo (RGB), jpg

    26th June 2017: Panel Discussion: “Bosnia and Herzegovina – the unknown partner for regional and local relations” Salzburg, Austria

    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.
     

    For more information please visit: www.ises.org.al 

    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

    12th NALAS General Assembly paves the way to a new era

    Sustainable water management for Southeast European countries. IRE-Chairman held speech in Vienna.
    The 12th NALAS (Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe) General Assembly Meeting was held in Vienna on 19 April 2017, to discuss issues of sustainable water supply provision and management for the development of South-East European countries. Over 50 participants, South-Eastern European mayors, delegates, partners and supporters from different countries of Europe and non-EU countries were present.IRE-Chairman Dr. Schausberger highlighted in his opening speech that the “NALAS is a very important strategic partner for the European Union, especially for the Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission. An enlargement strategy and the accession of new Member States are the EU’s most powerful foreign policy tools“. Furthermore the Special Advisor of Commissioner Hahn emphasized, that local governments’ capacities in the legislative, financial and administrative sphere have to be further developed: “In all the ongoing processes the local and regional authorities are playing a key role. A comprehensive strategy for development is only possible if it is declared and guaranteed at regional and local level. In order to be successful in these endeavors, local authorities are primarily necessary, above all mayors, who represent the foundations of a society.”
    From left to right: Dr. Franz Schausberger (IRE Chairman and Special Advisor to EU-Commissioner Hahn), Mico Micic (New NALAS President) and Darko Fras (NALAS Vice-president)
    Two important policy positions were voiced by the General Assembly: Firstly, the importance of promoting local self-management from the Western Balkan countries as key players in the EU integration process and secondly, the need for capacity development for the water and sanitation sector in South-Eastern Europe. This resulted in a new strategic plan for the period 2018-2022 to support the sustainable development of the local economy, innovative growth, job creation and regional cohesion. With these priorities, Mr. Miro Maric took over the role of NALAS President for the next few years.
    .NALAS is a network of associations of local authorities of South East Europe. The Network brings together 16 Associations which represent roughly 9000 local authorities, directly elected by more than 80 million citizens of this region. NALAS promotes the process of decentralisation in cooperation with central governments and international organisations. For more information please visit: www.nalas.eu

    Source: www.nalas.eu

    IRE-Chairman Dr. Schausberger held lecture in Brussels

    News from Brussels: Austrian school class at the liaison office of the region of Salzburg to the EU in Brussels

    On May 12th, the IRE-Chairman and former governor of Salzburg, Dr. Franz Schausberger, gave a lecture in front of a student class from Austria at the liaison office of the region of Salzburg to the EU in Brussels. The 20 students of the Borg St. Johann from Salzburg were on a field-trip in Brussels on the occasion of the Geo-Caching-Competition 2016, which the class won.
    Dr Franz Schausberger, representative of the Committee of the Regions, was on the occasion of the plenary session of the Committee of the Regions in Brussels. Together with Mag. Petz-Michez, head of the liaison office of the region of Salzburg to the EU, Dr. Schausberger discussed the latest European issues in a personal exchange with the students. 
    Source: liaison office of the region of Salzburg to the EU in Brussels

    Local elections in Croatia: The elections are still to be held in all major cities

    Elections in Croatia – Results of the first round. Local elections in progress. Voter turnout higher than four years ago

    The first round of the local elections in Croatia took place on Sunday 21 May. Around 3.7 million voters were called upon to choose zupas (provincial governors), mayors, local and regional representatives. The local elections have not brought any final results in several major cities, including the capital Zagreb: In four cities (Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and Osijek), where the candidates did not reach an absolute majority in the first round, ballots will be held on 4th June.

    In Zagreb, mayor Milan Bandic (BM 365), who has won 30.87 percent of the votes, will be challenged in the ballot in June by Anka Mrak-Taritas (HNS-LD), who won 24.48 percent of the votes. The election in Zagreb brought a defeat for the rightwing conservative HDZ, which could lead to discussions within the HDZ.  On the other hand, the HDZ has performed well at the regional level. In the choice of the zupas, the party leads in 13 out of 20 counties.

    The reigning Social Democrat Vojko Obersnel (SDP), who has been running Rijeka since 2000, leads the first round with 40 percent ahead of the challenger, the independent Hrvoje Buric (17.5 percent). In Osijek, the reigning independent mayor Ivica Vrkic, has a decisive head start in the ballot: He achieved 37 percent of the votes and was ahead of his challenger Ivana Sojat (HDZ), who only reached 17 percent. In the second-largest city of Croatia, Split, former mayor Zeljko Kerum, who was deputy four years ago, received 30.4 percent of the votes. His challenger in the ballot, HDZ candidate Andro Opara, however, only gained 26.2 percent.

    The election campaign was overshadowed by the disintegration of the government coalition of the right-wing conservative HDZ and the liberal-conservative Party of Most. To this extent, these elections are regarded as an important indicator for a possible early parliamentary election.
    The Republic of Croatia, independent since June 1991, joined the European Union on 1st July 2013.

     

    CDU wins Landtag election in North Rhine-Westphalia

    Election in North Rhine-Westphalia – defeat for SPD. Last important indicator before German Bundestag election in autumn

    The red-green state government has been deselected in SPD’s home country. 65.2 percent of 13.1 million electors voted on 21 May 2017:  In the Landtagswahl in North Rhine-Westphalia, the CDU has won considerably, as has been the case recently in Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein. The election in the most populous German federal state was, as every country’s election in Germany before, an important result for the German Bundestag elections on 24th September.

    The CDU under top candidate Armin Laschet won with 33.0 percent of the votes and is clearly ahead of the SPD. The SPD of NRW Minister President Hannelore Kraft came to 31.2 percentage points, plunging to a historic low in NRW just before the Bundestag elections.For the SPD it is the worst result since 1947 and the third defeat in the Landtagswahlen.
    The third largest party was the FDP, which achieved 12,6 percent,  its best result in North Rhine-Westphalia. The AfD followed with 7.4 percent, which for the 13th time succeeded to enter into the regional parliament. The Greens flew out of the government, but made the reintroduction into the Düsseldorf parliament. They received 6.4 percent of the votes. The Left failed at the five percent hurdle: They reached 4.9 percent and did not make it into the state parliament.

    The red-green coalition, which had ruled for seven years in NRW, was thus deselected. Hannelore Kraft resigned as NRW regional chairman and federal vice of her SPD party. With her resignation she wanted to give the party “a chance for a new beginning”. As a member of the Landtag, however, Kraft wants to remain in the Landtag. She won the direct mandate in her constituency Mülheim.

    The CDU sees itself on the uphill for the Bundestag election in autumn. The winner of the Landtag election, Armin Laschet (CDU), and thus the new Prime Minister, wants to ensure more internal security, better education policy and more jobs in NRW. Thus the CDU receives 72 seats in the Düsseldorf Landtag and the SPD has 69 seats. The Greens represent 14 MPs, the FDP 28 and the AfD 16.

    The CDU is now looking for a coalition partner. AfD and the Left are, however, excluded. By losing the party at the five percent hurdle of the Left party, a black-yellow coalition comes exactly to the 100 seats of the absolute majority. Thus, this coalition alliance would have replaced the thinnest parliamentary majority of one vote, although black and yellow did not receive a majority of the electorate votes in the Landtag election. Even if a black-yellow coalition in NRW is likely, a large coalition (CDU + SPD) is not excluded: It has a considerably higher majority in the state parliament. The CDU excluded traffic light and Jamaica alliances.

    Source:
    www.mik.nrw.de
    www.orf.at
    www.vol.at
    www.tageschau.de
    www.bundestagswahl-2017.com
     

     

    EU cohesion funding has to become simpler, more rapid, more flexible and less bureaucratic

    Plenary Session of the CoR in Brussels:
    The cohesion policy of the European Union has contributed significantly to the reduction of economic and social inequalities as well as sustainable growth among the European regions. Furthermore, it provides together with national and regional partners more than EUR 450 billion for the period from 2014 to 2020.In the plenary session of the Committee of the Regions on the future of cohesion policy on 12 May, the representative of the Province of Salzburg and former governor of Salzburg, Dr. Franz Schausberger, stated that further simplifications, more flexibility, faster handling and better coordination with others EU investment programs are essential. In addition to the aim of bringing the less wealthy regions closer to the European average, the harmonious development of the EU as a whole should continue to be encouraged. This means that cohesion policy should continue to be open to all regions. 

     

    From left to right: Dr. Andreas Kiefer (General Secretary of the Congress of the Council of Europe), Dr. Franz Schausberger (Chairman of the IRE and former Governor of Salzburg) and Gudrun Mosler-Törnström, BSc (President of the Congress of the Council of Europe)

     

    The complexity of the administrative and control system of cohesion policy would be disproportionate to the added value, Dr. Schausberger highlighted.So to say, the bureaucratic effort needs to be radically reduced for the affected recipients as well as for local authorities and that the EU authorities have to restrict themselves to the achievement of the objectives and the fight against fraud and corruption. The impact of BREXIT on the future of cohesion policy must also be clarified. Within the framework of the EU cohesion policy, the state of Salzburg classified as a “more developed region” accounted for 21.780 million in the 2014-2020 period from the ERDF-fund.

     

    Success for the CDU in Schleswig-Holstein

    Landtag election & its consequences in Schleswig Holstein
    In the Landtag election in northern Schleswig-Holstein, the CDU, as has been the case recently in Saarland, has clearly won. Each Landtag election is considered an important barometer with regard to the Bundestag elections in autumn.
    In Germany, the Landtag elections took place on 7 May 2017 in Schleswig-Holstein. The voter turnout was 64.2 percent. Because federal elections are held in Germany in autumn, every previous eletion is considered as an important barometer for the Bundestag election.  The CDU achieved 32 per cent and the SPD, which reached 272 percent, is about five percentage points lower. The Greens came to 12.9 percent, while the FDP achieved a plus and now stands at 11.5 percent. The FDP and the Greens are now hoping for a government involvement in the north. The right-wing party AfD has narrowly managed to get into the Landtag. The Left missed with 3.8 percent the entry into the Landtag.

    The CDU has clearly won the election, even though its top candidate Daniel Günther  was not even well-known in Schleswig-Holstein. Daniel Günther has won this election with a clear course, with clear messages with regard to transport policy, education policy and internal security. If he succeeds in forging a new coalition government, he would be the first CDU politician to become Prime Minister from the opposition during the Chancellorship of Angelika Merkel.

    The result now provides the CDU with hope for the nationwide election in autumn. Rather saddened appears the inferior SPD, which is likely to lose the post of the Prime Minister. The initially positive “Martin Schulz effect” faded. Regardless which coalition will form in Kiel, the elections did not cause a fundamental change in the majority situation in the Bundesrat. CDU election winner Daniel Günther is aiming for a coalition of CDU, FDP and the Greens. However, a large coalition with the SPD; a coalition with the SPD, FDP and Greens; but also a coalition Black, Green and the SSW would be conceivable.

    The next Landtag election will take place on 14th May 2017 in North Rhine-Westphalia.

    Source: www.tvthek.orf.at
    www.bundestagswahl-2017.com
    www.spiegel.de

     

     

    Clear Victory for Conservative Party in Great Britain

    Theresa May’s party won 563 seats. Labor needs to cope with heavy losses

    In the midst of tensions between London and Brussels for the completion of the EU exit, local elections were held in the UK on 4th May 2017. Great Britain voted for new municipal parliaments in England, Scotland and Wales. In Scotland, Wales and parts of England, almost 5,000 seats were placed in the municipal parliaments. Additionally, the mayors from six metropolitan regions, including Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, were also elected. The election was considered as an important barometer for the forthcoming parliamentary elections on 8th June 2017.

    The end result shows a clear victory for the Conservative Party (Toris) of Prime Minister Theresa May. After counting all 88 constituencies, the Tories won 1,899 seats.
    The opposition Labor Party as well as the right-wing populist United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), suffered heavy losses: The clear-cut loser is the right-wing populist anti-EU party UKIP, which will no longer be represented in many municipal parliaments. The party lost all its previous 145 seats and won one seat. Regretfully, the Labor Party has also experienced better times, reaching only 1,152 seats.

    Among other things, the mayors of Manchester and Liverpool were elected. Both cities went to the Labour party. Four of the six newly created mayors’ posts went to the Conservatives.
    A total of 28 constituencies went to the Tories, only nine to Labor. The Scottish National Party SNP was for the first time the strongest party in Scotland’s largest city Glasgow.

    According to the BBC, the final election results are as follows: The Conservatives achieved 38 percent, the Labor Party came to 27 percent and the Liberal Democrats reached 18 percent of the votes. UKIP, on the other hand, breaks down to five percent.
                       

    .

    Source: www.orf.at
    www.tvthek.orf.at
    www.bbc.com
    www.tt.com
    www.deutschlandfunk.de
    www.zeit.de

     

     

    Konrad Schupfner: New EuRegio president

    Cross-border cooperation as a building block for Europe
    On 2nd of May 2017, Konrad Schupfner, mayor of the city of Tittmoning (district of Traunstein), was unanimously elected to the new EuRegio President. He succeeded Johann Hutzinger (Mayor of Bergheim) after a four-year term. Every four years the presidency of the EuRegio Salzburg – Berchtesgadener Land - Traunstein changes between Salzburg and Bavaria.
    Mayor of Bergheim Johann Hutzinger and District Administrator of Traunstein Siegfried Walch led the EuRegio from June 2014 to May 2017. During their term, the EuRegio addressed important social issues such as the refugee situation, asylum or health care. Many small and large projects, which were and are often supported by the EU support program INTERREG, could be launched.
     The new EuRegio President Konrad Schupfner (CSU), his executive committee as well as the entire EuRegio agreed that cross-border cooperation at the EuRegio level is an important and positive building block for cohesion in Europe today.
    In this respect, he appealed to the Assembly to intensify its efforts for cross-border projects,and asked Eu-delegate in Brussels Claudia Schmidt to continue to work on the continuation of the INTERREG program at the German-Austrian border after 2020.

    Source: www.bgland24.de
    www.bayernwelle.de
    www.wochenblatt.de

     

     

    IRE-Patron and political theorist Prof. Benjamin R. Barber dies at 77

    Bereavement of renowned political scientist - He was striving towards a “strong” democracy in which citizens are more than legal entities
    With deep regret the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) announces, that the member of the IRE- Board of Patrons, Prof. Benjamin R. Barber,  died on Monday April 24th 2017 in Manhattan after a four-month battle with cancer. Prof. Barber was 77 years old at the time of his death.  Born in 1939, Barber was an American political theorist and author best known for his 1995 bestseller, Jihad vs. McWorld and 2013′s If Mayors Ruled the World. Barber was a Senior Research Scholar at The Centre on Philanthropy and Civil Society of The Graduate Centre at the City University of New York, the President and Founder of the Interdependence Movement, and Walt Whitman Professor of Political Science Emeritus, Rutgers University. 
    As a political theorist, Barber argued for a renewed focus on the use of civil society and engaged citizenship as tools for building effective democracy, particularly in the post-Cold War world. His latest work examines the failure of nation-states to address global problems, and argues that cities and intercity associations are more effectively addressing shared concerns. Benjamin Barber was a Senior Fellow at the USC Centre on Public Diplomacy from 2005 until 2017.

    Barber was an outside adviser to President Bill Clinton and a foreign policy adviser to Howard Dean’s 2004 Presidential campaign. He has advised political parties and political leaders in the U.K., Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland and Italy on civic education and participatory institutions. In addition, at the annually IRE conference “KERS” in 2014, he held an eye-catching presentation on mega cities.

    The IRE expresses the most sincere condolences and sympathy to his family and will keep him in a particularly honourable memory.

     

    Lisa-Marie Stauffer, MSc. is new employee at the IRE

    Austrian employee with international experience
    After four years of successful work from Joanna Chmielecki, who has changed professionally, Lisa-Marie Stauffer, MSc has been the new employee for European Affairs, Media and PR at the IRE since March 2017.
    Lisa-Marie Stauffer was born 1991 in Austria and is bilingual in English and German. After her bachelor’s degree in Social & Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna, she completed her Master’s degree at the University College London (UCL) in Social Development Practice in September 2016.

    Despite her young age, she has already gained international experience in Europe, Asia and the United States in various organizations including AMREF Health Africa, Red Cross or COPE Trust.

    The IRE would like to thank Ms Chmielecki for her commitment to the Institute of the Regions of Europe and wish her good luck and all the best in her new job. As a coordinator for Poland, she will continue to be associated with the IRE.

     

    More information of the new employee you can find under the IRE-Website or on LinkedIn

     

    Lisa-Marie Stauffer, MSc
    European Affairs, Media & Public Relations
    lisa-marie.stauffer@institut-ire.eu
    Tel: +43 662 843 288 20

     

     


    IRE- study on the topic “Cross-Border Regional Cooperation in the European-Russian Frontier Zone”

    The regional cooperation of the regions on the EU border – Russia works
    The study shows that, despite all the conflicts and sanctions between the EU and Russia, the cooperation between border regions is quite efficient.
    In general, it can be seen that cross-border cooperation in the European-Russian border region, so in the EU and Schengen external borders, is difficult to implement without EU funding. National and also other international funds for this topic are barely available. In addition, the legal framework of EU funding programs of the European Neighborhood Policy is a good basis for ensuring the appropriate use of funds. This will ensure that the funds will benefit the best projects which are promoting the regions. It is also important that cross-border cooperation projects by the EU and Russia were deliberately not placed on the lists of sanctions in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. Using the example of the small border traffic between Kaliningrad and Poland, the social significance of these cooperations becomes clear, namely the opening to the neighbors across the border and an increase in mutual interest. Thus the programs promote the human-to-human contact and cultural and social co-operation.
    The paper is divided as follow: Firstly, the geographic and historical overviews of the border regions are presented in detail. This overview is followed by an execution of the types of cooperation which leads to the main part of this work – the projects in and of themselves. This is subdivided by time-periods (mainly the financial framework of EU projects) and by countries – first the cooperation programs within the framework of the European Neighborhood Program are mentioned, followed by the Euregios. The conclusion of this work is a brief summary. 

    The IRE offers young people a one-month-long internship at the office in Salzburg. Interns work on a research paper elaborating a topic related to European or regional policy. The results are published in the IRE monograph series. Furthermore, the interns support the IRE in its daily activities and the organizational processes.

     

    IRE-chairman Dr. Franz Schausberger and the author
    of the study within the IRE-internship program, Sophie Jenerwein, MA

     
    Orders are warmly accepted (cost contribution €07,00):office@institut-ire.eu

      

    Arad County Council – 25 years of european existence

    The IRE warmly congratulates the member region in Romania on its anniversary

    Located at the western gate of Romania, Arad County is one of the most important counties in the country. The capital city, Arad, displays spectacular parks and monumental buildings, along the Mures River.

    Arad joined the Institute of European Regions in 2008. Since then, several IRE events have taken place in the region, such as the Café d’Europe Régionale and the Europe Day. In 2012, some students from this region took part in the IRE internship program in Salzburg.

    The Arad region promotes and supports foreign and national companies in the region. The unemployment rate is lower than 2.5 percent and in the capital it is below one percent. Since 22nd April 1993 there has been a partnership with the EU, and the region has become a model at regional level through its European attitude.
     

    We are looking forward to continue on the fruitful cooperation with Arad County Council and congratulate to the 25th anniversary with the EU.
     
    You can find more information under: www.cjarad.ro and www.visitarad.ro

     
    Source: Arad County Council 

     

    13 Mini buses will be launched in Nicosia

    Incorporated Master Mobility Plan

    The Municipality of Nicosia (Member of the IRE) announced the arrival of 13 mini buses in Nicosia. The aim is to revitalise the historic centre of the Cyprian capital by improving accessibility through sustainable means of transport and reduce the number of cars within the walls gradually. 
    Each bus is environmentally friendly, fully equipped with heating and cooling systems and has the necessary infrastructure to transport people with mobility problems. The total capacity of each bus is 22 with room for strollers. The buses have also provision for bicycle transportation and easy access for wheelchairs.

    The launch of the mini buses falls within the provisions of Nicosia’s Integrated Mobility Master Plan and the service is complementary to the citiy’s public transport system.

    Source: www.cyprus-mail.com
    http://in-cyprus.com

      

    Alfred Riedl takes office as President of the Austrian Association of Municipalities

    IRE sends congratulations:

    After 18 years at the head of the Austrian Association of Municipalities Helmut Mödlhammer resigned. His successor is Mag. Alfred Riedl.

    Since 1990, Alfred Riedl has been mayor of Grafenwörth (district of Tulln in Austria), which has a population of about 3,000. In 1998 he entered the Lower Austrian Parliament, where he holds the office of deputy chairman of his party. Since 2011 the tax consultant Riedl has also been serving as president of the Municipal Association of Lower Austria and has been vice-president of the Austrian Association of Municipalities since 2007. Riedl obtained a degree at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) and is the owner of a large tax consulting company in Lower Austria with several locations and more than 60 employees.

    The Austrian Association of Municipalities represents 2,089 of the 2,100 Austrian municipalities. The Association advocates the interests of the Austrian municipalities on national and international level. The aim is to secure the existence, the self-administration and the economic future of the various municipalities in Austria as a model for a subsidiary Europe. The Austrian Association of Municipalities has been operating a permanent office in Brussels since 1996 in order to comply with the international agenda.

    For more information see: www.gemeindebund.at

    Source: www.gemeindebund.at
    www.salzburgernachrichten.at
    www.meinbezirk.at
    www.kommunal.at
    www.wienerzeitung.at

    Wonderful flower decoration in Zalaegerszeg

    News from our Members:

    The western Hungarian city Zalaegerszeg, a member of the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE), is currently offering a wonderful floral decoration, which gives the whole city a beautiful sight. Additionally to numerous trees planted in the previous years, a variety of flowers have been seeded in the streets and parks. The city appears in a colorful spring dress and is a role model for other cities.

    One picture captures the view of the Church of Mary Magdalene, in another picture you can see the beautiful blossoming tree in front of the town hall, the many beautiful flowers in the park and a section of the colorful flower beds.

    Zalaegerszeg is a city with county rights and at the same time the administrative centre of Zala County. It has ca. 60,000 inhabitants and lies at the river Zala. The town was first documented in 1247. 

     

    For more information please see: http://zalaegerszeg.hu/

    Conservative party wins – steep decline for the populist Finn Party

    Municipal elections in Finland:

    The municipal elections in Finland took place on 9 April 2017. The Green party has gained 3.9 percentage points, more than any other party, and achieved 12.4 percent in total. The governing parties have experienced the biggest loss, especially the right-wing Finn party. The Social Democrats, as largest opposition party, has suffered a slight loss of votes, whereas all other opposition parties were able to record gains.
     

    In Helsinki, the Greens achieved 24.1 per cent of the vote, becoming the second-biggest party in the capital. The euro-critical Finn party won only 8.8 per cent. The Social Democrats came to 19.4 percent and the center party of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä stands at 17.5 percent.

    However, the big winner of this election is Jan Vapaavuori, who won the election in the capital with his National Coalition Party (Kokoomus). Former Minister of Economy Jan Vapaavuori established himself early on and won 28.4 per cent of the votes making him the new mayor of Helsinki.

    The National Coalition Party has been able to take its stand since 2015 and was also able to win the overall majority in Finland with 20.7 per cent. The turnout rate was 58.8 percent.

    source: http://www.tt.com
    http://www.helsinkitimes.fi
    https://www.neweurope.eu
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz
     

    Committee of the Regions debates future of EU

    Schausberger: Increase the integration of citizens at regional and local level

    The future of the EU was at the center of debate at the Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External affairs (CIVEX) of the Committee of the Regions (CoR), which former governor of Land Salzburg and CoR member Franz Schausberger attended on 6 April in Brussels.

    CoR President Markku Markkula and CoR Vice-President Karl-Heinz Lambertz were appointed to prepare an opinion regarding “Reflecting on Europe” for the Committee of the Regions. In a first discussion, Vice-President Lambertz pointed out the significance of this discourse at local and regional level. Furthermore, talks with those not convinced by the EU are planned.

    During the debate Franz Schausberger warned: “Populists and nationalists are always centralists and centralisms leads to a loss of trust. Regrettably, the subsidiarity principle has been weakened in recent years, even though this is a cornerstone of the Lisbon Treaty and an instrument against centralism. Studies show that, despite the critical situation of our society, the political trust in the representatives of the municipalities and regions is by far the highest. Subsequently, the citizens at regional and local level need to be consulted about the future of the EU. The five scenarios of the EU by Commission President Junker in the White paper on the future of the EU form the basis for this debate. This is the only way to sustain a secure a future based on the principals of decentralization and subsidiarity. It is therefore up to the citizens to deal with the scenarios and to set a direction for Europe.”
    The Commission CIVEX is one of the six expert committees in the Committee of the Regions, where opinions of regions, cities and municipalities on current EU legislation and on the future of the EU are prepared and voted on in the CoR-plenary sessions.

    source: Salzburger Landeskorrespondenz, 07.04.2017 

    Representation Office of Republika Srpska in Austria joins IRE network

    The IRE is pleased to announce that the regional representation Office of Republika Srpska in Austria headed by Mag. Mladen Filipović became member of the IRE network.

    The regional representation office of the Republic of Srpska was opened in Vienna in March 2012 by the government and the President of the Republic of Srpska. Since 2012, Mladen Filipović heads the Representative office of the Government of Republic of Srpska in Austria, aiming to establish, maintain and improve correspondence with the Austrian business community by intensifying cooperation with the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, Austrian institutions on all levels as well as other Austrian based international and domestic stakeholders.

    The representation office of the Republic of Srpska in Austria supports the government of the Republic of Srpska as well as its institutions by improving the cooperation with partners and organizations in Austria.

    We are looking forward to a productive collaboration with the Representation Office of the Republika Srpska. For more Information see: https://www.rep-srpska.at/

    European Cities of Tomorrow are Green

    Innovations, Potentials, Strategies and Best-Pratice Examples in Banja Luka:

    The Instituite of the Regions of Europe (IRE) has organised its 6th conference on “Green & Sustainable Mobility” on 29th March 2017 in Banja Luka (BiH), whicht took place in the National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska, one of the two entities of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In previous years the IRE organized international conferences on this topic in Ljubljana (SI), Tübingen (DE), Vienna (AT), Wrocław (PL) and Trieste (IT), which showes the interconnectedness and cooperation of various cities on municipial as well as regional levels across Europe.

     
    Since its early days, the discourse on “smart and green cities” has included environmental sustainability as one of its core principles. Today, the majority of Europe’s population lives in cities, which need to adapt to urban population growth, the effects of emissions as well as climate change. Green and smart concepts must be defined and put into practice to guarantee a bright future for future generations. Communities, towns, municipalities and regional states will remain major actors in investing in efficiency, renewable energy and green zones. Cities need to focus on technological improvements and economically viable reforms and strategies to foster sustainability, said Franz Schausberger, Chairman of the IRE and Special Advisor to Commissioner Johannes Hahn, at the opening of the conference. He also drew attention to the fact, that only an overall strategy fulfills the requirements for a funding from the EU Investment Fond.
    To define infrastructural projects means defining the future of the city. This will boost the economy, strengthen the community and help in interconnecting with our neighboring countries, explained Nedeljko Čubrilović, President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska.

    “Today we speak not only about Banja Luka but about all cities which develop towards a green and sustainable city” stated Igor Radojičić, Mayor of Banja Luka. Banja Luka is a city which is known for its green avenues and trees which persisted over 100 years. On the other hand, the city deals with problems such as the flooding in 2014, waste management, Co2 emissions and traffic problems. These problems are mainly based on cost factors, which the city cannot bear and hence, relies on the EU model, added Mayor Igor Radojičić.
     
    “We have chosen the European way“ said Nataša Kostić, Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Srpska, “and therefore sustainable mobility and life quality should be at the centre.” Matt Field, Head of Political Section, Delegation of the EU to BiH and European Union Special Representative in Sarajevo, highlighted the importance of promoting local spaces, friendly and secure transport for people. The main goal is to guarantee a secure, sustainable and environmentally transport in urban and rural areas. It is conceivable to reduce emissions and pollutions because with modern technology transport does not longer need to produce green house gases.

     

    Best-practice examples from Munich, Vienna and Ljubljana were presented by the experts to a large audience during the following panel discussions. Matjaž Vrčko from the Slovenian Ministry of Infrastructure reported on the evaluation strategies and financial plans, which are necessary for the progress. Not only the costs to build motorways but also its maintenance needs to be taken into account. Improving local transportation, railroads, motorways, parking spots and reducing commuter traffic are aspects which require smart administration.
    The Komercijalna Banka a.d. Beograd offers to provide an ecology concept for better business to raise awareness for green cities, explained CEO Alexander Picker. It is important to know what kind of funding it needed and for what purpose. The Komercijalna Banka signed a contract with the EU for 10 million Euros, where they cover 80% to finance credits for green projects.
     
    The concept of the city of Vienna puts the main focus on the civil society, life quality, innovation and technical development which results in a metastrategy. “Every further project is build on that metastragedy”, explained Pamela Mühlmann from Tina Vienna, the Smart City Agency of Vienna. Citizens want a decent life, which Vienna can also guarantee in a “smart” way and therefore, was named world’s top city for quality of life in 2017 for the eighth year running.

    However, it is not that simple. To implement those strategies into a city might be tricky, because every city is unique and the focus should be layed on individual concepts. Georg-Friedrich Koppen, Head of Mobility Section, Department of Urban Development Planning from Munich explained, that the city of Munich has worked for more than 50 years to gradually implement mobility strategies. For other cities it is quite difficult to catch up with such a long history. Additionally, Elena Marchigiani, Professor of the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture, University of Trieste in Italy, emphasized that the whole transportation system with all its aspects and connections (miles, parking needs, car-sharing etc.) needs to be considered despite some geographical obstacles. Trieste is surrounded by hills and mountains from one side, and the sea from the other side but still has a very good functioning bicycle system thanks to e-bikes.
    Such sustainable strategies need a flawless cooperation on local and regional level in order to capture more possibilities. Slaviša Sandić, Head of Department Traffic and Roads of the City of Banja Luka wants to work closely with the regional level to solve the infrastructure issues and create a link to the western transit, which will also benefit the economy.

    All the reforms and new strategies will serve not only the city’s infrastructure but will also ensure a positive competition on European level for Bosnia-Herzegovina. “You carry out the reforms for yourself, not for the EU”, said Franz Schausberger closing the conference.

    Special Advisor to the EU Commission Franz Schausberger in Banja Luka (BiH): Carry out reforms for yourself, not for the EU

    Translation of the Interview:

    Franz Schausberger, former prime minister of the Austrian region of Salzburg, and now Adviser for issues related to Western Balkans regions and cities and the policies of neighbouring countries of the EU and President of the Institute of European regions, is beloved guest of Banja Luka, where conference on mobility will be organized.
    This was quite lovely occasion for the interview with the prominent European politician, who says that the focus of the EU and the European Commission is again Western Balkans. Schausberger claims that “We simply want to send a signal to the Western Balkans that their future is in Europe, if they want it.”

    NN: 
    Mr. Schausberger, at the end of 2015, I’ve read in an interview in where you stated that the consequences of the refugee crisis which Europe is facing, will not be of economic or social nature, but political. Today, can we say this is what exactly happened?
    Schausberger:
    First of all, allow me to say that this refugee crisis is the greatest challenge for EU and its member states. The problem is was really sudden crisis, something which no one expected. The EU was not ready for such challenge, and member states needed to pursue their own solutions. Meanwhile, step by step, we are on doorsteps of one common, European solution.
    NN:
    And did Europe managed to cope with the refugee crisis?
    Schausberger:
    For now all we can say is that EU managed to reduce the problem, but the crisis is still ongoing. Meanwhile, we have also noticed that the right-wing, populist parties, are misusing this crisis. But they are not the only one; left-winged populist parties exploit these issues. We really have to find an adequate solution as soon as possible, bearing in mind hundreds of thousands more refugees waiting in North Africa.
    NN:
    You are an experienced politician, president and founder of the Institute of European regions, and you were prime minister of Salzburg for two terms. Today you are an adviser to questions of region and cities of Western Balkans, and policies of neighbouring countries, and related to that, question on relation between EU and BiH is imposed – what are relations right now, since there were various ups and downs?
    Schausberger:
    Yes, exactly. There had been many ups and downs, but on the other hand, you can see that the EU is fully aware of the problems in Western Balkans. At the last meeting of European Council, countries which should be included in the expansion were on the agenda of the EU, and despite of many problems, EU is now intensifying its efforts towards the Western Balkans. We simply want to send a signal to the Western Balkans that their future is in Europe, if they want it.
    So, after the meeting of the Council, Commissioner Johannes Hahn visited Sarajevo, where he met with the prime ministers of Western Balkan countries, and they were all sitting at the same table. I believe, regardless of all the problems we have, that we can see some progress – slow, but visible.
    NN:
    Can you tell us – what is the current mood of the Commission, which is a kind of government of the EU, when it comes to the ongoing expansion of the Western Balkans? Information is rather contradictory.
    Schausberger:
    You still must make a difference between the Commission and some member states. I believe Commission is very positive, but of course, Commission needs to make sure that certain conditions must be met, and which countries of Western Balkans need to fulfil in order to join. I remind you that the Western Balkan countries and the Commission agreed on the reform agenda, questionnaire etc. But it is not enough just to reach an agreement, but to achieve it as well. But this, however, depends on the countries of the Western Balkans.
    NN:
    Do you share the opinion, which we heard so many times, that the BiH authorities simply need to complete undertaken reform agenda obligations for ourselves, in order to improve the quality of life of citizens, regardless of when and how we join the EU?
    Schausberger:
    All these changes are necessary, not because of the EU or Commission, but for the country itself. Not because of the politicians of those countries, but for the people who live there. All these reforms will bring certain countries closer to the European standards. Of course, we are talking about benefits for the entire population, especially young people. But do not think that there was any pressure from the Commission. No, this is not the case. Because you, your country, you are doing all that for yourself, and no one, I mean no one, is forced to join. But if you want it, you need to complete the requirements.
    NN:
    You arrived in Banja Luka, as a guest of the President of the National Assembly of RS, Mr. Nedeljko Cubrilovic. What do you expect from the conference on the mobility, which will last few days?
    Schausberger:
    This conference is organized by my Institute of European Regions (IRE), together with the National Assembly of RS and the city of Banja Luka. Banja Luka is very interested in becoming a “green city”, and I talked about that with the mayor. I think it’s on the right track. And this is in itself a good sign, a good signal from one of the countries of the Western Balkans. I think it is important to send such a sign to the EU. That is why we do our best to bring experts, politicians from other countries and cities, in order to convey best practices on how to create “green city”. Although each city needs to find its own way, we should use the experience of other cities which already implemented these changes.

    IRE welcomes new Member Wischt d.o.o.

     

    The IRE is pleased to announce that the company Wischt d.o.o, based in Doboj (BiH), became member of the IRE network. Wischt d.o.o. company was founded in 1996 as a small workshop for wood processing, which in a short period of time step by step has become one of the leaders for the manufacture of vacuum presses, both in the national and international market, from Europe, North and South America, Russia, India to China. Primarily due to its innovation and internationally recognized patents, which are confirmed by numerous awards.
    Quality control, innovation, customer care and competitive spirit make Wischt company the ideal partner for all companies regardless their dimensions, starting from the family ones up to the industrial groups.

    The machines are used in medium and industrial processes. The company has several types of presses for different applications and functions, in WOOD INDUSTRY for veneering, bending, laminating, forming ect. in GRAPHIC INDUSTRY for high quality Sublimation process , machines for Thermo/Cold forming of different materials and machine for 3D PVC foil laminating.
    Wischt has also combined machines which can be used in multiple applications at once, or machines with more working tables for time saving in production. Founder and Managing Director of Wischt d.o.o. is Mr. Zvjezdan Višt.

    We are looking forward to a fruitful cooperation with Wischt company.

    For more Information see: http://www.wischt-vacuum-presses.com/

    At the interface between science and practice

    Meeting with Principal Blechinger:

    The IRE works regularly with scientific institutions to incorporate expertise and new research results into current conference topics and projects. A close exchange of expertise takes place in particular with the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences. On 21 February 2017 IRE Chairman Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger, the principal of the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences Prof. Mag. Dr. Gerhard Blechinger and IRE Board Member Dr. Bernd Petrisch met at the IRE to intensify the existing cooperation and to develop future projects. Last year the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences actively participated at IRE conferences on topics such as tourism and “smart building”. Within the framework of this year’s 13th Conference of European Regions and Cities (24.9. – 26.9.2017) the University of Applied Sciences Salzburg wants to contribute to the discussions on “start-ups” and “education”.
     
    Salzburg University of Applied Sciences is the university for technology, health and media. Here, 2,700 students receive training in the disciplines of Engineering, Business and Social Sciencescomprising Tourism, Business Management and Social Work, Design, Media & Arts and Health Studies. This local research and teaching institution, with its 320 staff members, is also a driving force for innovation. With its international outlook and focus on innovative research and teaching, the university is a pioneer of future-oriented degree programmes and practice-oriented solutions for business and society.
    Our society is changing more rapidly and more fundamentally than ever before. To understand these changes and respond positively to them expertise, creativity and courage is required. The Salzburg University of Applied Sciences provides the impetus for this. With its international outlook and focus on innovative research and teaching, the university is a pioneer of future-oriented degree programmes and practice-oriented solutions for business and society in the fields of technology, health and media.

    http://www.fh-salzburg.ac.at/

    IRE-Board of Trustees met in Vienna

    The first IRE Board of Trustees meeting this year took place on 17 February. At the invitation of Mr. Ernst Rosi (Senior Adviser of the Managing Board of Raiffeisen Zentralbank), the members of the Board of Trustees met at the Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich AG in Vienna. The IRE board regularly collects opinions and recommendations from the advisory body in order to have a comprehensive opinion for the planned activities and projects. The aim is to provide the best possible support to regional and local authorities in the future. The Board of Trustees consists of entrepreneurs, public officials and scientific experts who support the IRE Board of Directors and the IRE team in their daily work for the regions and cities of Europe. The agenda for the year 2017 with activities in the SEE and the CEE region as well as the contents of the 13th Conference of European Regions and Cities were discussed during the session. The Board of Trustees was founded two years ago and meets three times a year.

     
    From the left:
    General Secretary Joachim Fritz, Member of the Executive Board Helmut Falschlehner, Ernst Rosi, Georg Krauchenberg, Chairman Franz Schausberger, Lukas Mandl, Deputy Chairman Stefan Eder, Josef Schöchl, Bernd Petrisch and Werner Weihs-Raabl.

    First CoR plenary session in 2017: Further reforms of the European asylum system

    The 121st plenary session of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) took place on the 8 and 9 February 2017 in Brussels. The discussion focused on a partnership framework regarding migration with third countries. The reform of the common European asylum system and the second round of reforms as well as the EU resettlement framework were discussed. CoR Member Franz Schausberger and State Parliament President of Salzburg Brigitta Pallauf participated in the discussions.

     
    “The European Union now focuses on the involvement of the countries of origin and, as Austria has repeatedly called for, in supporting the third countries on migration issues,” said Franz Schausberger during the debate. One outstanding example is the EU humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees with a total budget of around six billion Euros. Schausberger also supports the proposal for the establishment of an investment fund for third countries of up to 62 billion Euro to combat the causes of migration.
    An opinion on the reform of the common European asylum system was rejected by both Salzburg representatives, because it contained claims which are considerably weaker than the regulations in Austria. Other demands contradicted the principle of subsidiarity and touched core competencies of the Member States and would prove to be unsuitable.

    Other topics during the plenary session included the current events in Romania, the forthcoming elections in France, the “Brexit” and the EU’s investment campaign in regions and cities for smart and sustainable development. Furthermore, a new European consensus on the development policy was discussed. The adopted CoR opinions will be transmitted to the European Commission after the plenary session.

     

    soure: Landeskorrespondenz Salzburg, 9. Feb. 2017

    New scientific cooperation with the Academy of German-Italian Studies in Merano

    IRE chairman Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger recently welcomed a delegation from Meran (IT), which visited the IRE accompanied by Prof. Dr. Roman Reisinger (University of Salzburg). The opportunities of a scientific cooperation between the Academy of German-Italian Studies in Merano and the IRE were discussed. The academy is a non-profit association for the promotion of cultural and scientific exchange between the German-speaking and the Italian-speaking countries. International conferences, symposia, research and doctoral colloquia as well as lectures, readings, exhibitions and concerts are organized by the Academy. Scientific projects are also being realized. President of the Academy is Cuno Jakob Tarfusser, an Italian lawyer and judge at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In March 2012, Tarfusser was elected Vice-President of the International Criminal Court.


    from left: Deputy-Director Enrico Cioccolini, Director Ivo De Gennaro, Univ. Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger and
    Univ. Prof. Dr. Roman Reisinger

     

    In future the IRE will cooperate with the Academy more closely, exchange information and also arrange internships in Salzburg and Meran. The IRE is looking forward to an intensive cooperation with the Academy in Meran.

    For more information see: http://adsit.org/WP/de/

    Graz election 2017: ÖVP is facing difficult coalition negotiations

    City council elections took place in Graz (Austria) on 5 February 2017. The clear winner is mayor Siegfried Nagl from the Austrian People´s Party (ÖVP).

    According to the official results, the ÖVP got 37.8 percent of the votes, the KPÖ (Communist Party) 20.3 percent and the FPÖ (Freedom Party) 15.9 percent. The SPÖ (Social Democratic Party) lost heavily, achieving only 10.1 percent; the Greens have also recorded a minus of 10.5 percent. The NEOS gained 3.9 per cent and thus enters the city council, while the Pirates failed with 1.1 per cent. The final result is a bitter pill to swallow for the SPÖ: they have lost their two seats in the council to the KPÖ and are out of the government. The ÖVP gains three more seats; the FPÖ and the Green Party both get one additional seat. In total, the ÖVP will be represented in the municipal council with 19 seats, the KPÖ with ten. The FPÖ gets eight seats, the Greens and the SPÖ five and the NEOS one seat. The turnout was at 57 percent and has increased slightly compared to the 2012 election, but is the second lowest turnout compared to the five previous elections.

    A new coalition of the ÖVP with the second-strongest force KPÖ seems highly unlikely. Nagl already announced that the ÖVP will not elect Elke Kahr (KPÖ) as vice mayor. There are several reasons against a coalition with the Communist Party, e.g. regarding the issue of a water power plant at the river Mur, which the KPÖ opposes. Nagl is critical of a ÖVP-Green-Neo coalition: 25 mandates would be too little for a comfortable majority. He also is skeptical about the right-wing FPÖ as they are far apart on issues such as education and integration.
    Despite the withdrawal of the SPÖ from the proportional government, the mayor favours a black-red-green coalition as they would have the majority in the city council (with 29 mandates) as well as in the municipal government. In any case, the coalition negotiations will be tough.

    News from the IRE network: Lviv expects half a million tourists

     

    With its good value in euros and dollars Lviv is becoming a major travel destination in Europe. Lviv now is entering the big leagues of Eastern European tourism.

    “In January, we expect a record of 500,000 visitors — half of them are Ukrainians, the rest are foreigners — from Poland, Turkey, Germany, Belarus, USA,” said Galyna Malets, head of the Lviv City Council’s tourism department. “In the same period last year, Lviv hosted 300,000 guests.” Last year, Lonely Planet placed Lviv among the top five European tourist destinations. In 2016, 2,6 million tourists visited Lviv — more than three for each of the city’s 723,000 residents.

    Only 60 km from Poland and a world away from the separatist conflict in Ukraine’s southeast corner, Lviv is gaining recognition at one of Europe’s cheapest travel destination for 2017, according to Momondo, an international travel company.

    For more information: http://city-adm.lviv.ua/

    picture: http://diligences.com/lviv-city

    Ukraine needs a regional reform

    Franz Schausberger at the Europe-Ukraine Forum in Rzeszów, PL:
     
    After the decentralization reform has been implemented at local level in the Ukraine it is necessary to set up a regionalization reform for the highly centralized country as well as an Autonomy reform for the Eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, as defined in the Minsk Agreement, said Chairman of the Institute of European Regions (IRE) Franz Schausberger at a conference in the Polish border town of Rzeszów on 28 January 2017. In the course of the local reform 1,744 municipalities were voluntarily merged into 366 new communal units. Additionally, the municipalities have been empowered by the financial decentralization programme to receive about 60 percent of the income tax collected in their area. For the first time in the history of the Ukraine, municipalities have financial means to strengthen their own economic development. These quick successful results were not even suspected by experts.
     
     
    from left: Marcin Swiecicki, a member of the Polish Parliament, former mayor of Warsaw, former minister of International Economic Cooperation, Franz Schausberger and Stepan Barna, head of the regional administration Ternopil (UA).
     

    The decentralization process must continue at local level by strengthening the self-management of the regions, said Schausberger. All regional presidents should in future be elected by the regional assemblies and not appointed by the President of the Ukraine. Numerous successful models can be found in the EU Member States, such as the Polish regionalization model.
    As Schausberger emphasized, the EU fully supports the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the Ukraine. However, the EU also supports the implementation of the Minsk Agreement, which provides for the introduction of a special Autonomy Status for the Eastern-Ukrainian regions of Lugansk and Donetsk. This is the only way to ensure that Ukraine maintains its territorial integrity.

    Elections in Waidhofen an der Ybbs

    ÖVP regains absolute majority

    The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) with Mayor Werner Krammer has won the municipal elections in Waidhofen an der Ybbs on 29 Januar 2017. The party got 60.2 percent of the votes and regained the absolute majority they lost in 2012 (47.4 percent). The FUFU party and the FPÖ (Freedom Party of Austria) also gained votes, while the Social-Democrats (SPÖ) and the UWG suffered significant losses.

    The SPÖ and the Independent parties fell from 23.4 to 15.5 per cent, the UWG lost more than 10 per cent (from 15.5 to now 4.6 per cent). FUFU, for the first time in 2012,  gained votes (from 5.7 to 10.2 percent), the FPÖ slightely gained votes compared to the last elections (from 3.9 to 5.3 percent). With 4.1 per cent the Greens received almost the same amount of votes as previously (2012: 4.2 percent). Therefore, the new mandate in the Statutory City of Lower Austria is distributed as follows: ÖVP 26 (2012: 20), FWU 4 (2012: 2), Green Party 1 (2012: 1), FPÖ 2 (2012: 1).

    10,566 persons were entitled to vote, six lists competed in the elections. The electoral participation was at 66.7 percent. Krammer thanked his competitors for the fair election campaign and added that “we will work together intensively for our beautiful Waidhofen.” Krammer had repeatedly called for cooperation with all parties.

    (Austrian Press Agency)

    New edition of Occasional Papers published

    Publication of the IRE:
     

    The Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) presents once again a collection of papers on current political topics regarding European regions in the new edition of the Occasional Papers. The texts were written by students during their one-month internship at the IRE. Scientific analyses were worked out and the young authors got the chance to be published for the first time.  

    The articles cover the following topics:
     

    • Genderpolitik. In den Regionen Salzburg, Burgenland, Hessen, Sachsen und der Europäischen Union, Agnes Schöchl
    • Election System of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Biljana Grozdić
    • Are European affairs being discussed in the regional parliaments of Bosnia and Herzegovina?, Igor Drasković
    • Lokalwahlen in Bosnien-Herzegowina 2016, Merima Abdić
    • Separatismus in Europa: Eine Darstellung der Unabhängigkeitsbewegungen in Katalonien vom Mittelalter bis in die Gegenwart, Rosanna Guancioli
    • Autonome Regionen in Europa; Südtirol und Katalonien im Vergleich, Lukas Andreas Wallner
    • Republic of Moldova: EU Capacity building on development of regions, local and regional infrastructure in Moldova, Mihaiela-Marcela Corșatea
    • Serbian cities and regions as key engines in its path towards EU integration, Tajana Medaković

     
    Occasional Papers Nr. 5/2016, ISBN-Nr: 978-3-902557-17-9

    Orders are accepted under: office@institut-ire.eu

    Decentralisation Strategy for Austria

    65 out of 68 federal offices in Austria are based in Vienna, only three ministries are located in different cities: the Federal Office for Viticulture in Eisenstadt, the Federal Office for Water Management in Scharfling and the Austrian Federal Office for Forestry in Purkersdorf. In Germany 80 federal offices are spread across 24 cities, and in Switzerland twelve out of 47 federal offices are not located in the capital Berne.

    In addition, 37 international organizations are based in Austrias capital, which adds up to 103 authorities and institutions in Vienna alone. As a result the capital is overcrowded, whereas the economic growth in the other eight federal states is hampered. This is the result of a study conducted by the Initiative Wirtschaftsstandort Oberösterreich (IWS), a private facility in Linz with the main purpose of analyzing and working on location and infrastructure issues.
     

     
    from left: IRE Secretary General Joachim Fritz, Gottfried Kneifel
    und Franz Schausberger
     

    On 24 January 2017 IRE-chairman Franz Schausberger welcomed the CEO of IWS Gottfried Kneifel in Salzburg. Kneifel reported on the rural depopulation in Austria: Austria has a 40% negative population balance, meaning that 838 out of 2,100 Austrian municipalities have a strong emigration. A counter-strategy is needed. Digitalization makes a decentralization of all services and authorities possible.

    A best practice example is the German state Bavaria with its “homeland strategy”. A key component of the homeland strategy is the transfer of authorities. They create secure jobs and strengthen the infrastructure of rural areas. The project has started in 2015 with the largest regionalization of authorities and state institutions of the last decades. The concept of “regionalization of administration” foresees the relocation of more than 50 authorities and state institutions with 3,155 persons (2,225 employees and 930 students) to the rural regions of Bavaria. Priority was given to regions with particular demand for action. The core task is the relocation of the Bavarian Ministry of Health from Munich to Nuremberg, which begins this year. 

    The IRE also works for a decentralized infrastructure. The focus lies on the increasing importance of regions and municipalities for European policy and economic development. The IRE links stakeholders from politics and business in order to boost decentralization. Schausberger and Kneifel have agreed to cooperate more closely in future and to exchange expertise.
     
    source: https://www.stmflh.bayern.de/landesentwicklung/verlagerungen/

    Meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister of BiH Igor Crnadak und Franz Schausberger


    from left: Igor Crnadak and Franz Schausberger

    During a meeting of Foreign Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina Igor Crnadak and the chairman of the Institute of the Regions of Europe Franz Schausberger issues such as the implementation of the reform agenda, integration of the municipal level to the EU accession process, recent events in the Republika Srpska and the strengthening of the regional and local administrations have been discussed. It was agreed that, above all, the representatives of the cantonal and local levels should be involved even more into the EU accession as EU policies must be broadly supported by the subnational level. 

    IRE Member looks for Project Partners

    Inter-Municipal Development Centre of the municipalities of Grosuplje, Ivančna Gorica and Trebnje, Slovenia has been established in August 2016 as a joint municipal administration with the aim of preparing and coordinating projects for the three municipalities.
    We cover the three neighboring municipalities, both geographically and in terms of population. Our common goal is to provide our citizens basic conditions for a high-quality of life as well as additional content, services and infrastructure that will give them a higher added value.
     
    We have the long-track record in EU projects, are highly motivated with a strong sense of commitment and enthusiasm for project work. With us you can work on different types of projects: pilot/demo projects, awareness raising, R&D, networking, mobilities, education and investment projects.
    The topics we are pursuing in our local communities are Sustainable tourism and mobility, Cultural and natural heritage, Environment protection, Energy efficiency, Rural development, Social inclusion, Rural development and Enhancing access to ICT.
     
    We are searching for new partners (municipalities, development agencies/centers and other associations) in the following EU programs: Erasmus+ Sport and Strategic partnerships, Urbact, Interreg transnational, inter-regional and cross-border Interreg SI-HR, SI-AU, SI-IT, Creative Europe and Europe for Citizens.
     
    If you are interested, please contact Ms. Jasmina Selan at jasmina.selan@grosuplje.si,
    tel.: +386 1 788 87 59.
    More information about us: www.mrc-eu.si.

    27-28 January 2017 in Rzeszów, PL: 10th Europe – Ukraine Forum

    Europe – Ukraine Forum is one of the key events organized by the Institute for Eastern Studies with headquarters in Warsaw. The main theme of the 10th Forum is the modernization and the development of Ukraine’s potential along with the direction and pace of the reforms. Regardless of the crisis that the country has been experiencing in recent years due to the war and the loss of territories, Ukraine has reaffirmed its European choice. However the constant political divisions, economic instability and a poorly visible reforms result in growing frustration of the society. 

    “Opportunities Not To Be Missed” is the motto of 10th Forum Europe – Ukraine. The report, the panel discussions and the presentations will pertain to reforms in Ukraine, the opportunities arising from the Association Agreement with the European Union and the conditions for the modernization of local government and civil society.
    IRE chairman Dr. Franz Schausberger was invited to the Forum in his function as Special Adviser to the European Commission and will take part in the panel discussion “Ukraine’s Decentralization Reform. In search of an acceptable model”.
    The Europe-Ukraine Forum will be held from 27 – 28 January 2017 in the Polish city Rzeszów, near the Ukrainian border.

    For more information see:
    http://www.forum-ekonomiczne.pl/10th-europa-ukraina-forum/?lang=en#.WIDPOfnhCUl

    Regional and local elections in Europe 2017

    In 2017 local and regional elections will be held in nine European countries. The list below is not exhaustive.

    The statutory city of Waidhofen an der Ybbs in Austria begins this year with elections on 29th January 2017. The municipal elections in 2012 had resulted in the loss of the absolute majority of the ÖVP (Austrian Peoples party), which achieved 47.4 percent. The Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) slipped from 30 to 23.4 percent, the “Independent Election Community” (UWG) rose from 10.7 to 15.5 percent. The Green Alternative (GAL) reached 4.2, the FPÖ 3.9 percent. The list “Colorless Independent Formed Uniforms” (FUFU) entered the town hall with 5.7 percent. According to recent polls, the Waidhofen ÖVP and mayor Werner Krammer could possibly regain their absolute majority.
    The 40 mandates in the Waidhofen municipal council were divided as follows: ÖVP 20, SPÖ 10, UWG 6, FUFU 2, Greens 1, FPÖ 1.
    This is followed by the elections of the state capital Graz, where the municipal council is elected ahead of schedule on 5 February 2017. The last municipal elections in the city of Graz took place on 25 November 2012, regular elections should have been held in November 2017. But on Thursday, 17 November 2017, the Graz Town Council dissolved paving the way for new elections. The dissolution of the town council is the result of a lost budget vote. The mayor Siegfried Nagl (ÖVP) lost the majority for the budget 2017 despite the support from the SPÖ. The Communist Party (KPÖ) had tied its support to a referendum regarding a power plant. For years, the planned power plant in Graz-Puntigam has been a key problem. The Green Party and the KPÖ oppose it and demand a referendum on this matter, which, however, was rejected for legal reasons. The KPÖ took the chance to veto the 2017 budget.
    The last municipal elections in 2012 were clearly won by the ÖVP with 33.74 percent, despite a loss of 4.6 percentage points. The KPÖ was able to compensate for its bad result from 2008 and gained 8.7 percentage points to a total of nearly 20 percent and appointed the Vice Mayor Elke Kahr. The SPÖ lost 4.4 percentage points and came to 15.3 percent. The FPÖ won 2.9 percentage points, reaching 13.7 percent. The Greens lost 2.4 percentage points, which resulted in 12.1 percent. For the first time, a left-wing pirate party managed to reach 2.7 percent and entered the Graz municipal council. The BZÖ, on the other hand, had to leave the town council. The distribution of seats in the Graz Town Council is: 17 ÖVP, 10 KPÖ, 7 SPÖ, 7 FPÖ, 6 Greens, 1 Pirates.
    According to current polls, the ÖVP could roughly keep its last result, the SPÖ would fall to about 11 percent, the KPÖ and the Greens would lose (four or two percentage points), while the FPÖ would take second place with 18 percent.
     
    The IRE will report on the results of the regional and municipal elections.

    Listed by Countries

    Country/Date                     Region   Institution(s)                           
    Denmark
     
      
    21 November5 RegionsRegional Councils
     98 MunicipalitiesMunicipal Councils
    Germany  
    26 MarchSaarlandLandtag
    7 MaySchleswig-HolsteinLandtag
    14 MayNorth Rhine – WestphaliaLandtag
    Finland  
    9 April297 MunicipalitiesMunicipal Councils
    Latvia  
    3 June9 Cities, 110 MunicipalitiesMunicipal Councils
    Luxembourg  
    8 OktoberCities and MunicipalitiesMunicipal Councils
    Macedonia  
    March90 MunicipalitiesMunicipal Councils
    Austria  
    29 JanuaryLower AustriaMunicipal Council (Waidhofen/Ybbs)
    5 FebruarySteiermarkMunicipal Council Graz
    OctoberBurgenlandMunicipal Representations
      Direct Election of the Mayor
    OctoberLower Austria Municipal Council Krems       
    Portugal  
    October308 MunicipalitiesMunicipal Councils
    United Kingdom 
    Great Britain
      
    4 MayEngland35 Councils
     England9 Direct Elections of Mayor
     Scotland  All 32 Councils
     WalesAll 22 Councils

    (no guarantee of completeness)

    Chronologically Listed

    DateInstitution(s)RegionCountry
    January   
    29 JanuaryMunicipal CouncilWaidhofen/Ybbs,
    Lower Austria
    Austria
    February   
    5 FebruaryMunicipal Council GrazSteiermarkAustria
    March   
    26.MarchLandtagSaarlandGermany
    MarchMunicipal Councils90 MunicipalitiesMacedonia
    April   
    9.AprilMunicipal Councilsin 279 MunicipalitiesFinland
    May   
    4 May35 CouncilsEnglandUnited Kingdom
     9 Direct Elections of MayorEnglandUnited Kingdom
     All 32 CouncilsScotlandUnited Kingdom
     All 22 CouncilsWalesUnited Kingdom
    7 MayLandtagSchleswig-HolsteinGermany
    14 MayLandtagNorth Rhine – WestphaliaGermany
    June   
    3 JuneMunicipal Councils9 Cities, 110 MunicipalitiesLatvia
    October   
    8 OctoberMunicipal CouncilsCities and MunicipalitiesLuxembourg
    OctoberMunicipal RepresentationsBurgenlandAustria
     Direct Election of the Mayor   
    OctoberMunicipal CouncilKrems, Lower Austria Austria
    OctoberMunicipal Councils308 MunicipalitiesPortugal
    November   
    21 November Regional Councils5 RegionsDenmark
     Municipal Councils98 MunicipalitiesDenmark

    (no guarantee of completeness)

    The New Year starts with TRASYS joining the IRE

    The IRE network is further expanding in 2017 and we are glad to announce that TRASYS Beteiligungs- und Management GmbH from Vienna is joining the IRE network.

    TRASYS is a private Austrian group of companies in the field of electrical industry. The involved companies have more than 100 years of experience concerning the development and production of electric motors, generators and drive systems. Because of the given ownership structure, the companies can act independently on the market. Furthermore, they can comply with the individual needs of their customers thanks to their efficient organisation and high flexibility. By producing in India, the company group has access to one of the world’s most important growing markets.

    The companies of the TRASYS Group develop and produce electric, rotating engines, i.e. motors and generators, in middle power range and small numbers of pieces. Above all the group works with international clients in the fields of mechanical engineering and construction, energy production, underground and tunnel construction as well as rail vehicles. TRASYS possesses production and sales facilities in Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, India and the USA. The company group is represented by managing partner Franz Hrachowitz.

    http://www.trasys.at/

    European Capitals of Culture 2017

    The cities Aarhus (Denmark) and Pafos (Cyprus) were appointe cultural capitals for the year 2017. European Capital of Culture is a title which is awarded annually since 1985 by the European Union. In 2004, the title was awarded for the first time to two cities. Throughout the year, many cultural events take place in the European Capitals of Culture. The appointment is supposed to point out the richness, the diversity and the similarities of the cultural heritage in Europe and to enable a better mutual understanding of the European people.

    This event, which is financially supported by the EU, presents special cultural aspects of the city, the region or the concerning country to the European public.

    Aarhus
    The region Midtjylland along with the region´s 18 municipalities supports the project Aarhus 2017. Politically and culturally, it is the most significant project in Denmark for the past decades. It represents a unique possibility to invest into Aarhus and into the region. Aarhus 2017 means participation. The project is the result of a process, in which more than 10,000 people from the whole region have already taken part. And Aarhus 2017 will keep starting initiatives with the citizens.
    The motto Let’s Rethink illustrates that Aarhus 2017 will transform the region Midtjylland into a cultural laboratory, in which alternative solutions can flourish.
    Aarhus is Denmark’s second-biggest city, the economic centre of Jutland and home to a diverse industry.

    Pafos
    Pafos is a seaport city in the South West of the Republic of Cyprus. After Nikosia, Limassol and Larnaka, Pafos is the fourth-biggest urban area of Cyprus with 51,300 inhabitants (as of 31st December 2004). The city itself has about 27,500 inhabitants. It is located in the Greek-speaking part of the island. The most important sight of Pafos is the medieval castellet directly at the harbour as well as the antique ruins. The ruins of numerous temples and places of sacrifice prove that Pafos has been a place of pilgrimage for almost 900 years. At the same places, the Bronze Age goddess Astarte, the Greek Aphrodite and the Christian Virgin Mary have been and are worshipped. Apart from the ruins of the public buildings, the floor mosaics are especially worth visiting. The kings’ graves belong to the most interesting archaeological excavations. They are part of the UNESCO world heritage.

    More information:
    http://www.aarhus2017.dk/de/
    http://www.pafos2017.eu/?lang=en

    Balancing Sustainability and Affordability in Regional Housing

    IRE Expert Conference on Sustainable and Affordable Housing:

     

    The population worldwide is growing and Austria expects one million more inhabitants by 2050. The reason is not only the slight increase in birth rates but also migration.  Housing is a fundamental right guaranteeing home to every person. Hence, the housing policy needs to be adapted to the fast changing society structure with more single households, nursing facilities for elderly people and higher equipment standards.

     “All these developments cause challenges for the economy and politics. Regions and cities are key stakeholders in the field of housing and need to set up a variety of modern, flexible, sustainable and affordable housing models for the future”, said IRE-chairman Franz Schausberger at the opening of the IRE expert conference.

    Many families decide to live in the suburban areas which makes the availability and affordability of the land scarce and expensive, explained Johannes Ebner, mayor of Hallwang a town near Salzburg. Furthermore, a good public transportation system and a broadband internet access are two important factors for families who move to the rural areas. The challenge is to offer a quiet and green environment with flawless infrastructure. 

    “Many people commute to the city centers every day, which makes subsidized housing and a sustainable mobility plan go hand in hand”, agreed Hans Mayr, Salzburg state minister for infrastructure and housing. The Region of Salzburg has lately worked intensively on a new housing reform to guarantee liquidity for housing subsidies. The reform will also include new housing designs such as starter apartments for young people with small income.The state government tries to implement the new concept without allowing for new debt.

     

    Housing subsidies is not common in all European countries, explained Susanne Bauer, chairwoman of the Eurocities Working Group Housing.  The average construction cost has increased by 46% in the past 10 years to over 2,000 Euros per square meter which makes subsidies so important. Moreover, subsidies not only benefit the tenant but also secure jobs and promote the construction industry. Vienna has developed a new housing policy offering small-scale units which are compact, cost-effective and flexible. Today, one third of all subsidized apartments in Vienna are “smart”. The Austrian housing system is well-structured which dates back to the 1980s, when Austria did not follow the trend to sell real estate´s on the free market but restructured and extended the promotion of housing and housing subsidies, explained Wolfgang Amann, Director of the Institute for Real Estate, Construction and Housing in Vienna. The federal government has achieved to establish a system with great benefits for today´s circumstances.

     

    However, offering non-profit housing and investing in modern and efficient construction measures while the at the same time considering the high land prices is an additional challenge for the housing business in Salzburg, said Christian Wintersteller, chairman of the Public Housing Association in Salzburg. The land prices in Salzburg have risen by 123% in the period from 2001 to 2011. Martin Clemens Weber from the Erste Bank AG, added that an efficient financial system for housing is significant and financial support is offered at European level. The European Investment Bank, for example, provides for long-term funds with fixed interest rates.

     

    The Austriancompany GAP solution GmbH wants to achieve a balance between sustainability and affordability for housing construction. Johann Aschauer, managing director of GAP solution GmbH, presented the project “The House” which supplies the household with clean energy not using fossil fuels. It consists of a sustainable, ecological wood construction and a respiratory active facade with a honeycomb technology. “The house” has a positive energy balance which is generated from water heating, heat recovery and solar energy. Approximately 2000 houses have been modernized or newly built with the solar honeycomb technology.

     

    Affordability is the trademark of NEUE HEIMAT TIROL. Managing director Klaus Lugger condemns the high prices for rent and demands a 20%-limit for rent according to the personal income of the tenant. NEUE HEIMAT TIROL is one of the leading property developers and property management companies in Western Austria. As a consultant and problem solver in residential construction projects, NEUE HEIMAT TIROL offers its services to all Tyrolean municipalities and institutions. High value is placed on cost-oriented architecture, high living quality and increased environmental consciousness.

    Another best-practice example is the KlimaHaus Agency Bolzano, a public institution of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano for the energetic certification of buildings. To date, it has certified almost 7,000 buildings in Italy alone. The KlimaHaus agency is committed to the training and further education of all actors involved in construction. It promotes initiatives to raise awareness among the population on energy efficiency, sustainability and climate change. Energy efficiency requires a combination of several actors: builders, planners, building contractors and building materials traders, as well as research, training and development, politics, administration and service. “This is the only way we can save energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the building sector”, explained Stefan Walder, from the Autonomous Province of Bolzano. The advantages of KlimaHaus speak for themselves: greatly reduced heating costs, healthy and comfortable living while at the same time increasing the value of the property.

    “Energy Efficiency plays a crucial role, also in the housing business”, said Josef Schwaiger, Salzburg state minister for energy. A constant development of energy efficient methods will improve sustainable living. Furthermore, less land is being built on in Salzburg, which already shows the positive effects of the coherent land and housing policy that the regional government is currently optimizing. Housing policy is in constant development in which a variety of aspects need to be considered: changing society structures, efficient technology, affordability and many actors who have their part in this process.

    For more pictures, click here.

    “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.

     
    Sources:
    Die Zeit (8.10.2016)
    Der Standard (8.10.2016)
    Neue Zürcher Zeitung (9.10.2016)
    ORF (9.10.2016)
    de.wikipedia.org/Regionalwahlen_in_Tschechien_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.

    Sources:
    Die Presse, 05.10.2016 (Online)
    Der Standard, 03.10.2016 (Online)
    ORF, 02.10.2016 (Online)
    Salzburger Nachrichten, 02.10.2016 (Online)
    Bild: http://www.balkanforum.info/

    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

    The 7 best reasons to participate in the 12th Conference of European Regions and Cities

    The annual Conference of European Regions and Cities brings together about 300 representatives of politics and business from the various European regions. It focuses on current topics for European regions and cities with regard to future strategies and challenges for politics and businesses.

    The 12th Conference of European Regions and Cities focuses on a number of regional sustainability issues. Firstly, the current topic of sustainable integration of immigrants in Europe will be discussed, which includes new tasks regarding housing and employment. Secondly, we will look into the sustainable use of soil and water. Finally, the preservation of cultural heritage makes an important contribution to the promotion of sustainable tourism in cities and regions, which we will talk about on Tuesday. Also, the question of how to obtain financial aid for major, sustainable regional projects from European funds will be discussed at the very beginning of the conference.

    The 7 best reasons for your participation:  Your benefits!

    1. At the Conference of European Regions and Cities current issues are being discussed. Your personal contribution to the discussion is highly appreciated.
    2.  We offer internationally high-profile speakers and experts who will inform you about the latest developments in various fields. In addition regional and local best-practice examples and projects, that have already solved a problem successfully, will be presented.
    3.  Sustainable and modern venue: The Salzburg Congress is an exclusive conference location in the city center. Modern rooms with free WIFI connection offer an ideal working environment. The international conference is organized as a Green Meeting. The Salzburg Congress inspires its visitors due to its unique location right next to the Mirabell Garden.
    4. Free participation: As president or representative of a region, as the mayor and representatives of a city or town, as well as IRE member and sponsor, the participation in the programme is free of charge. All other participants pay 350€ of conference fee for all three days. The programme offers informative key note speeches and panel discussions, meals during the conference and evening programmes at two evenings.
    5.  Unlimited Networking: Meet decision-makers from economics, politics, science and media, investors and cooperation partners. Get in direct contact with important companies and entrepreneurs. Profit from the Europe-wide network of the IRE. National and international contacts are guaranteed. B2B meetings will give you the opportunity to talk to high-profile international participants from different fields.
    6.   The exhibition area on the first floor of the Salzburg Congress offers enough space to present your town, region or company to the conference community (if interested please contact martina.balazic@institut-ire.eu).
    7.   IRE social events: We will conclude the successful day in a relaxed atmosphere at the evening events. A reception at the Salzburg Residenz on Sunday and a Salzburg evening at Stiegl´s Brauwelt on Monday will give you the chance to meet like-minded people in a casual way. (The dinner on Monday is charged with 20€, drinks are free.)

    Register now:

    12th Conference of European Regions and Cities „Sustainability in Regions and Cities of Europe“

    25 – 27 Sept 2016, Salzburg, Austria

    Information and Registration: martina.balazic@institut-ire.eu or www.institut-ire-eu

    IRE-Patron possible successor of Ban Ki-moon

    Danilo Türk runner-up in first vote on new UN Secretary-General:
     

    In the first of several test votes to choose the next UN Secretary-General, former President of Slovenia Danilo Türk came second, right after former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres. For now, the UN Security Council remains deeply divided, which is why a strong initial support is even more important for Türk. Many believe that the time has finally come for a female UN Secretary-General, while some are also convinced that the next UN Secretary-General should come from the Eastern Europe group, which includes Slovenia and Danilo Türk.
      
    Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the United Nations Andrej Logar said that Türk is one of the leading candidates in terms of the support he has received, adding that the results confirmed what he had already heard in informal discussions at the UN. Türk is a very credible candidate with an extensive knowledge of international relations and UN-related topics. According to Logar, the results also show that the Slovenian Government had made the right decision in supporting the candidacy since Türk proved to be a very strong candidate. The final decision on the new Secretary-General is expected in October or November.
     
    Danilo Türk joined the IRE “Board of Patrons” a few months ago and supports the IRE in its objective to strengthen the political and economic position of the regions and municipalities in Europe.
     
     
    Source: Slovenia Weekly, Government Newspaper.
    Foto: Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire

    Housing Alliance founded in Baden-Württemberg

    News from the IRE network:
     

    The German state of Baden-Württemberg has founded a housing alliance together with the housing industry, the association of local authorities, the parliamentary groups, banks and environmental organizations. The new housing alliance gets all actors of the housing market at one table in order to provide fast and sufficient affordable housing. Baden-Württemberg is a member of the IRE network since 2005.
     
    The housing alliance for Baden-Württemberg was founded at the invitation of the Minister of Economy, Labour and Housing Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut.  ”It is a central concern of the state government to provide quick and sufficient affordable housing, which proves to be more necessary than ever,” said Hoffmeister-Kraut. In the metropolitan and rural areas of Baden-Württemberg rents and real estate prices have risen dramatically. Particularly cheap apartments for people with lower incomes were short, said the Minister. Efforts to provide housing should therefore be a priority. The state increases the funds available for the housing assistance to 250 million Euros in 2017. 
    The “Housing Alliance” has a consultative and advisory role on housing related issues.

    The IRE is planning a conference on “Regional Housing” on 2nd December 2016 in Salzburg, where housing location and housing funds are being discussed.
     

    Source: Homepage Baden-Württemberg
    Foto: Die Welt, Homepage Baden-Württemberg

    Meeting for better regional and local cooperation between Hungary, Slovenia and Austria

    Accompanied by IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger, representatives of the regional and local level from Austria, Slovenia and Hungary met on 22 July 2016 at the office of the Mayor of Szentgotthard (Hungary) Gábor Huszár. The second president of the Parliament Rudolf Strommer, the district governor of Jennersdorf Hermann Prem, the Deputy Mayor of Jennersdorf and Member of ParliamentBernard Hirczy, the District govenor of Szentgotthard Orbán István and the representative of the Maribor Igor Kos attended the meeting. Common cross-border problems and projects were discussed, which includes a joint industrial park, the three-country nature park, the electrification of Rababahn and better transport links across the region.

     
    IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger pointed out the importance of the three-country nature park and the common cultural heritage and suggested to organize a conference dedicated to the natural and cultural heritage of the three border region.
     

     
    from left: Bernhard Hirczy, Hermann Prem, Huszár Gábor, Franz Schausberger,
    Rudolf Strommer, Igor Kos.

     

     

    Commissoner Hahn at Paris Western Balkan Summit: 146 Mio. € for connectivity projects in the Balkans

    The European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn has recently announced the release of €146 million for projects linked to connectivity in the Balkans during the Western Balkan Summit in Paris. “We have decided to provide €96 million for 3 railway infrastructure projects in Serbia, Albania and in Kosovo. We will also provide €50 million for greening measures such as energy efficiency in residential buildings and small-scale hydro projects”, he said at the Balkans summit Business Forum.

    Hahn also stated that connectivity is not just about building new infrastructure but about ensuring the best use of infrastructure. “Investment without reforms makes little sense”, he said, underlining that the countries in the region should respect the commitments taken, especially on reform measures concerning transport and energy.

    “The connectivity agenda has the potential to improve the competitiveness of the region by reducing the costs for businesses when goods are moved through the region. That potential will only be fully met if all the identified reforms are implemented in full whilst countries focus their limited fiscal space on the most important investment priorities”, Hahn concluded.

    picture: SN/EPA

    After the Local Elections in Arad, Romania: Make full Use of EU-Funds

     

    A new president was elected in the IRE Member Region Arad after the local elections in Romania on 5 June 2016. Iustin Cionca of the National Liberal Party PNL will hold the office of county president for the next four years. Representatives of local authorities, the 41 counties and the capital Bucharest were elected. 
    “My priority for the next legislative period is to invest in all areas accessing European funds. So far, the county has not made full use of this potential,” said Cionca in an interview.
    The former Romanian Minister of Labour and Member of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies Claudia Boghicevici (PNL) and former councillorSergiu Bîlcea (PNL) were elected vice-presidents. ”Working at regional level will be a new experience for me, but it was a conscious choice and I look forward to the challenges. I want to build a foundation for infrastructure projects and social services to increase the quality of life in Arad “said Claudia Boghicevic to the news portal Ziare.

    Arad county borders with Hungary in the west and has a population of  430.629 (2011). The county is member of the IRE network since 2008.

    Regions and cities launch investment plan for a citizen-centred EU: A fresh start for Europe

    The EU must address an alarming fall in public investment in order to tackle growing regional disparity, support sustainable growth and restore faith among citizens, said politicians across Europe today during a two-day Summit of Regions and Cities in Bratislava. 

    A week after Slovakia took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time, local and regional leaders have adopted a declaration during the 7th European Summit of Regions and Cities on 8th of July 2016 in the Slovak capital that calls on the EU to improve regulation and attract greater private-public investment to create more jobs and tackle the investment gap.
     
    “If we are to restore faith in the EU, we must demonstrate how joint EU operations benefit citizens’ daily lives. Citizens demand results, which is why investment – in people, places and ideas – must start locally. Around 60% of public investments within the EU are made by local and regional authorities. Policymakers need to redirect all their efforts to increasing public and private investment in all the European regions. It is no longer business as usual. We must spread a new and innovative entrepreneurial mind-set across Europe,” said Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR).

    The representative of Land Salzburg in the CoR Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger met in Bratislava with a number of regional representatives from across Europe, including the president of the Croatian region Brod-Posavina Danijel Marušić and invited him to the 12th Conference European Regions and cities to Salzburg, which takes place from the 25th – 27th  September 2016. The IRE has organized this conference for the past 12 years, which brings together more than 200 public officials and representatives from business every year to boost investment in the regions. New company locations and new job opportunities are being established in the regions.
    The IRE network of more than 130 members compromises already 17 regions and cities from Croatia, which resulted in a big benefit for the regions during Croatia’s EU accession two years ago. Brod-Posavina is a member of the IRE network since 2014.
     
    Source: CoR press release 08.07.2016

    News from IRE members: Land Hessia celebrates 70 years

    Regional Prime Minister Volker Bouffier and State Secretary Lucia Puttrich: “Hessia is 70 years old and in good shape”.

    High-profile personalities from politics, business, science and culture met this year for the annual Hessen Festival in the Hessian State Representation in Berlin. About 2000 guests from Hessia, Brussels and Berlin and numerous Ambassadors took the opportunity to talk about the past year and the tasks ahead. Hessia is one of the 16 German states.

    Prime Minister Bouffier said: “Hessia is 70 years old and in good shape. Since the foundation of the state it has become one of the strongest economic regions in Europe. Several generations have contributed to a state, which offers more than ever before. Something we can all be proud of. “
    On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the German-Polish Neighbourhood Treaty Hessia also invited its Polish partner region Wielkopolska (Greater Poland), whose Vice Marshal Krzysztof Grabowski was present at the event. State Secretary Puttrich explained that Hessia is in a dialogue with Poland for many years. “Nowadays, our European Union is being put to a severe test. Therefore, it is more important than ever to fight in great unity for our community and our values”.
     
    Source: Land Hessen, Press Release 05.07.2016

    International Know-How for Regional Migration Policy

    Intensifying the cooperation between ICMPD and IRE:

    IRE chairman Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger met with former Austrian vice chancellor Dr. Michael Spindelegger in Vienna, who holds the office of Director General of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) since January 2016. They discussed the current migration situation in Europe and both agreed that regions play an important part in migration and immigration policy and need to be granted a stronger say on this topic.

    Michael Spindelegger will take part in the 12th Conference of European Regions and Cities, which takes place from the 25th-27th of September 2016 in Salzburg, and is one of the keynote speakers on the subject of „sustainable integration“. The ICMPD and IRE will intensify their cooperation in future.

    The International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) was established by Austria and Switzerland in 1993 and has since grown to 15 member states. ICMPD was founded to carry out research, projects and activities on migration-related issues and to provide policy recommendations to the governmental agencies of states, as well as to external governmental and intergovernmental agencies. ICMPD also has observer status at the United Nations. Although ICMPD has global operations, it is primarily focused on the European area and is headquartered in Vienna, Austria. ICMPD is currently composed of 15 Member States, around 200 staff members, a mission in Brussels, as well as representatives in Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East.
    ICMPD cooperates with governments, other international organisations, research institutes and members of civil society in developing policies in migration-related areas, as well organising trainings, etc. to transfer know-how on dealing with migration issues.

    For more information see: www.icmpd.org

    New Member from Georgia: Borjomi joins the IRE-network

    The Georgian city of Borjomi has joint the IRE-network, which now consist of more than 130 members.

    Borjomi (Georgian: ბორჯომი) is a resort town in south-central Georgia with a population of 13,826. It is one of the districts of the Samtskhe-Javakheti region and is situated in the northwestern part of the region in the picturesque Borjomi Gorge on the eastern edge of the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park. The town is famous for its mineral water industry (which is the number one export of Georgia), the Romanov summer palace in Likani, and the World Wide Fund for Nature-site Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park.  The bottling of mineral water is a major source of income for the area. Because of the supposed curative powers of the area’s mineral springs, it is a frequent destination for people with health problems. Borjomi is also home to the most extensive ecologically-themed amusement park in the Caucasus.

    Borjomi was mentioned as Tori for the first time in the 7th century.  A historical trade route led through the canyon in Barjomi and was a military gateway to Georgia during times of war. Borjomi is now the second IRE member from Georgia and is represented by its mayor Dimitri Kipiani. The Autonomous Republic of Adjara has previously joined the network.  

    We are looking forward to the cooperation with Borjomi.

    More understanding and solidarity for national and regional measures to prevent illegal immigration

    The representatives of Salzburg in the European Committee of the Regions Franz Schausberger called for more understanding and solidarity towards those countries and regions that are affected most by the refugee, migration and asylum problem.  

    The meeting of the Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) on 23 June 2016 debated on issues like reforming the Common European Asylum System, the legal immigration, integration of third country nationals, security and combating terrorism and the European Neighbourhood Policy.

    Austria is a country that has received a high number of refugees and the Province of Salzburg is affected in particular because of its border with Germany. As long as the protection of the EU’s external borders is not guaranteed member should have the possibility to take national and regional measures to prevent illegal immigration. Even countries that are known for their liberal immigration policy, like Sweden, were recently forced to take very restrictive measures, explained Schausberger. Therefore, criticism from countries that are not affected by the issue is inappropriate.

     

    Franz Schausberger (right) and the CIVEX chairman Olgierd Geblewicz (left), Governor of the Polish Province of West Pomerania.

    News from IRE Members: Lower Austria awarded “European Entrepreneurial Region 2017″

    The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) annually nominates regions with the most convincing and promising entrepreneurial visions. On 15 June 2016 the province of Lower Austria and the regions of Western Greece and Extremadura (Spain) were awarded “European Entrepreneurial Region”. Governor of Lower Austria Erwin Pröll accepted the award for the strategy on “Lower Austrian economy 2020″ at the award ceremony in Brussels.

     
    “The award for “European Entrepreneurial Region 2017″, the “Award of Excellence” in 2002 and the award for most innovative region in Europe in 2007 are milestones in the regional policy of Lower Austria” said the Governor during the ceremony. “It is a clear recognition of our efforts in economic policy.”  Lower Austria has invested heavily in location quality, for example in transport infrastructure, the development of education and research infrastructure, which also contributed to higher quality of life in Lower Austria.
     
    Markku Markkula, the President of the European Committee of the Regions, said that SMEs are the driving force for sustainable growth and jobs in Europe as 8 out of 10 work places are with SME´s. The award winning regions remind us that local and regional authorities play a key role in strengthening entrepreneurship.
     
    Three regions are annually awarded for their excellent economic power and outstanding and innovative business strategies.


    from left: Governor Erwin Pröll, President of the CoR Markku Markkula and
    State counsellor Petra Bohuslav
    (© NÖ Landespressedienst/Pfeiffer)

    IRE Chairman Schausberger met with the first Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the European Union Ján Figeľ

    The Institute of the Regions of Europe offers its support to the new and first Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union Ján Figel, said IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger at a meeting in Brussel on 14 June 2016.

    Ján Figeľ (2004-2009 European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, and from 2010 – 2012 Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transport) was appointed first Special Representative for the promotion appointed by religious and ideological freedom outside the European Union by the President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker in May this year. Figeľ will be in office for one year.

    According to Ján Figeľ, the promotion of mutual respect and understanding in a fast changing social environment are key elements for a more human world in the twenty-first century. Therefore, he decided to hold his inaugural speech to local and regional politicians, who are politically responsible for the subnational level and in direct contact with people. “The promotion of religious freedom or the freedom of beliefs, as well as the fight against radicalisation and violent extremism, are not primarily housed in the abstract world of ideas, but rooted in the daily realities of our towns and cities. Religion and belief is a fundamental right in the European Union. Even today, religious and ethnic minorities are being persecuted. This makes the protection and promotion of freedom inside and outside the EU even more important. This issue deserves more attention”, said Figel´.

    This initiative was called by the European Parliament in a resolution on 4 February 2016.

    Local elections in Italy 2016: Political earthquake at local level

    In the Italian local elections on 5 June and in the run-offs on 19 June 2016, the voters clearly rejected the politics of the PD party of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. In Rome the candidate of the protest movement “Five Star” Virginia Raggi, won the elections with almost two thirds of the votes. Turin has also elected a five-star candidate, which was regarded as a historic breakthrough by the new party.

    The 37-year-old Raggi wants more transparency and legality in daily politics. The five-star candidate Chiara Appendino in Turin, who won 54 percent of the votes, said that this is not only a protest vote but a vote for change and dignity.

    A narrow victory was achieved by the PD Party in the economic capital Milan, where former director of the World Expo Giuseppe Sala won the elections. Rienzi’s party has managed to defend its position in the left-stronghold Bologna. In Naples, the left Mayor Luigi de Magistris was re-elected, however, he is a critic of Renzis policy.

    The five-star party has not made it into the run-offs in Milan, Naples and Bologna. Yet the polls in Italy were considered an important test for Renzi. The five-Star-party was founded by star comedian Beppe Grillo as a protest movement seven years ago. Parliamentary elections will be held in Italy in June 2018 and Grillos hopes to benefit from the results of this year´s municipal elections.

    More than 13 million people in 1350 towns and cities were called to the polls. The turnout was at 50 percent according to the ministry of the interior.

     

    Source: dpa, N-TV, taz

    Photo: http://www.cataniavera.it/2013/03/beppe-grillo-leader-del-movimento-5-stelle-il-parlamento-e-sovrano/

    First IRE Alumni Meeting: Sharing common interests and memories

    The young professionals from all over Europe, who came to visit Salzburg on the 17 und 18 of June 2016, share two things: interest in European politics and memories of their internship at the IRE.

    The Alumni Meeting was organized by the IRE in order to stay in contact with the former interns and to give them the opportunity to get to know each other and exchange experiences with like-minded people. Since the IRE´s founding 12 years ago almost 250 interns have completed an internship at the headquarters in Salzburg.

     
    After a brief welcome at the IRE office by IRE Chairman Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger, the group paid a visit to the Salzburg Regional Parliament, where they engaged in a discussion with President Dr. Brigitta Pallauf. Afterwards the IRE-Team invited the former interns to the Salzburg Museum for an exhibition on the 200th anniversary of Salzburg as part of Austria. Vivid talks and the exchange of experiences continued during the relaxing atmosphere at dinner.
     
    The group enjoyed the sunny weather on Saturday to take a walk along the city mountain Mönchsberg and enjoy the beautiful panoramic view of Salzburg. The Museum der Moderne is situated on top of the Mönchsberg, where a guided tour was offered through contemporary art exhibitions.  It was great to see many familiar faces and to learn more on the whereabouts and careers of our former interns. Many of the IRE-alumni now work at ministries in Vienna, consulting companies in Germany, at various universities in Europe, or at the European institutions in Strasbourg and Brussels.
     
    The IRE offers internships to students from all over Europe and has also a cooperation agreement with the Salzburg College, where students from the United States apply for an internship at the IRE. The internship gives interns an insight into the daily work of a NGO and furthermore, promotes research activities. 
     

     
    photos: IRE & Neumayr/Leo

    European crisis can only be overcome with the support of strong regions

    IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger at the European Forum Wachau, Austria:
     

    The crisis-shaken development in Europe can only be challenged successfully with the support of strong regions, said President of the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE) Franz Schausberger at the European Forum Wachau in Göttweig on 11 June 2016. The current government crisis in the Ukraine is essentially based on the fact that the country is highly centralized and has long failed to establish strong regions and guarantee a degree of autonomy. A solution to the conflict would be a new federal constitution.

    from left: Member of the Landtag of Lower Austria Lukas Mandl, IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger, Gerald Steiner, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Globalization of the Danube University Krems, publicist and author Hubert Wachter and Oliver Paasch, Minister President of the German-speaking community in the Kingdom of Belgium.

    The increasing need for integration of many asylum seekers caused by the refugee influx to Europe can only be met successfully with the strong commitment of regions and municipalities. Sustainable integration is based on a decentralized integration policy, when refugees are not only settled in the metropolitan areas, but also in small cities and towns. The integration of smaller numbers of asylum seekers in many towns and cities will automatically increasing their acceptance in the host country.
     
    Globalization, the refugee influx and terror cause increasing nationalism, stated Schausberger. And nationalism promotes political centralism, the breakdown of democratic structures and authoritarian tendencies. Embedding people into their regional culture, strengthening their identity and guaranteeing reliable political institutions is the key counterweight to globalization, anonymity and lack of transparency.

    Based on this, the competences of the European institutions can be enhanced in the fields of refugee crisis, the fight against terrorism and international crime.
     
    The member of the Lower Austrian State Parliament and member of the IRE Board of Trustees Lukas Mandlpresented how initiatives and activities of regions can provide indispensable support to tackle the European crisis.
     
    In the course of the European Forum Franz Schausberger met the Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov. Since Bulgaria is still a very centralized country, Schausberger offered the Bulgarian Foreign Minister the expertise and the support of the IRE to reform the decentralization and regionalization of Bulgaria. The Minister confirmed that the decentralization discussion is being discussed for years now and especially the financial decentralization of municipalities and cities is a priority for Bulgaria.

    More funding for cities and regions in Slovakia

    Congress of the Union of Towns and Cities of Slovakia in Bratislava:

    The 27th Congress of the Union of Towns and Cities of Slovakia (UTCS) was held on 3 June 2016 in Slovakia’s capital Bratislava. The Congress was chaired by the President of the Association of Towns and Cities of Slovakia and Mayor of Bratislava Ivo Nesrovnal. Most participants were mayors of Slovakian cities.
     
    The UTCS set out priorities and objectives for the next time period such as a closer cooperation of regional governments with the private sector and an increasing energy efficiency for which a platform will be established. Representatives of several ministries discussed possible development chances for marginalized regions in the country.

    The Secretary General of UTCS Milan Galanda pointed out that due to newly implemented laws more funding for the cities and regions is possible, which also comes with more responsibility. Other priorities are the improvement of health services and waste management.
     
    Member of the IRE Board of Trustees Georg Krauchenberg took part in the meeting.

    Catalonia has positioned itself in Europe

    “Catalonia’s way in Europe” a discussion, 25.05.2016 in Salzburg:

    “The independence movements in Catalonia and Scotland are pro-European movements, even if independence means splitting-up from an EU member state,” said Jordi Solé, Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the European Union of the Regional Government of Catalonia. Politicians and scientists have discussed the current situation of Catalonia in Spain and in the EU at a panel discussion on ” Catalonia’ way in Europe “, which was organized by the IRE on 25 May 2016 in the International Salzburg Association in Salzburg.

    “The roots of the current independence movements in Europe are extremely complex and difficult to compare to one another. There are diverse ethnic, geographical, religious, historical, economic and linguistic reasons,” explained IRE Chairman Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger. “The formation of new states in Europe is certainly nothing new for the 21st century. But increasing globalization, internationalization and, thus, the anonymization of the labor markets and economic relations causes a greater and stronger identification with the home region. In the past states have separated and unified. Europe has seen disintegrated states and empires in the last 150 years; many new, small states have emerged.”

     

    The turning point for Catalonia was in 2006 when citizens have adopted the new Statute of Autonomy (with 74%) in a referendum. However, the decision of the Spanish Constitutional Court in Madrid on 28 June 2010 brought no progress for the Catalan government, and even put it one step back. This and the lack of alternative proposals from Madrid were the trigger for increased independence movements in the past 10 years. In a non-binding public consultation on 9 November 2014, a large majority of 80.1% has voted for independence of Catalonia from Spain.

    The refusal of negotiations of Madrid and the reinforced centralization pressure led to the belief that an independent state is the best for the citizens of Catalonia. An additional problem is the current absence of a full-functioning government in Spain. Since the last parliamentary elections in December 2015, no new government has been established, so that no calls can be made. New elections for the Spanish Parliament are scheduled for June 2016.

    But talks with Madrid would not only include fiscal reforms, said Solé. The Catalan government is planning elections in 2017 to legitimize independence by a parliamentary majority, and by then prepare a plan for their own state including a constitution. The goal is to transform the region with 7.5 million inhabitants into an independent state by mid-2017.

     

    Krystyna Schreiber is a German author and journalist and has been working on the independence movement in Catalonia for the past years. In her book “Die Übersetzung der Unabhängigkeit” she interviewed several personalities from Europe on this subject. In her research she found that independence movements are an European issue and not only a national or bilateral problem. Dr. Kai-Olaf Lang from the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, German Institute for International Politics and Security, supports this idea and noted that independence movements have become a question of European domestic policy, which the EU must begin to deal with. A creative concept must be worked out because chances are high that Catalonia´s efforts will lead to further independence movements throughout Europe.

    The region of Catalonia has already established contacts abroad and has opened an office in Vienna in June 2015. Austria is a very important location for Catalonia in order to have a representation in Central Europe and to build relationships with these countries, explained head of the office Adam Casals. The office functions as a Chamber of Commerce to expand business contacts with investors.

    photos: Neumayr/Leo

    Southeast Europe Economic Index: Economic climate improves slightly

    Bosnian and Serbian entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future. This is the result of a study by the credit insurer Prisma and the market research company GfK Austria.

    64 percent of the Bosnian and 68 percent of Serbian companies expect (very) positive outcomes in the year 2016. “Coperations are the forerunners.” says CEO of Prisma Ludwig Mertes. “This has to do with the fact that the countries are trying to attract foreign investors to the country. Serbia, for example, is positioning itself as an attractive investment location for larger international corporations, which benefit from the low cost structure in the country.”

    36 percent of Serbian companies rate the opportunities as “very good” or “good” and 62 percent believe in better business within the next twelve months. “The current government manages to ensure a positive business climate and to make good PR for their own good,” says Mertes.
     
    Serbia’s economic data reflects the good economic climate this year. In the first quarter of 2016 the economic output grew by 3.5 percent as compared to the same period last year. Last Wednesday, the central bank raised its forecast. The central bank expects an increase from 2.3 to 2.4 percent for 2016. Previously, 1.8 percent was expected. In addition, the budget deficit was amounted to € 110 million for the first four months this year, although originally € 590 million were expected.
     
    Croatia is in a low mood. The economic climate with 53 points is still better compared to a study in 2014, when Croatia only reached a total of 51 points. This leaves Croatia at the bottom: “The reason might be that the high hopes which were placed on the elections last year were disappointed,” says Mertes. Instead of setting new impetus the new coalition government is about to break apart.
     
    Croatia is in a low mood. The economic climate with 53 points is still better compared to a study in 2014, when Croatia only reached a total of 51 points. This leaves Croatia at the bottom: “The reason might be that the high hopes which were placed on the elections last year were disappointed,” says Mertes. Instead of setting new impetus the new coalition government is about to break apart.
     
    After years of low mood for the business climate the neighboring country Slovenia has improved its situation. While the economic climate in 2014 was at its low with only 49 points, the value improved considerably with 54 points this year. After the severe economic crisis the entrepreneurs are looking into a more hopeful future.
     
    Bosnia and Herzegovina reached 57 points, which is the second best index value right after Serbia. However, the estimates differ: coperations (64) have a positive outlook on the future while small and medium-sized enterprises (50) are more pessimistic. “This is a surprising result for us given the political instability and the economic situation in the country. But perhaps the many investments from the Arab world have caused the positive mood,” said Mertes.
     
    Based on a survey of 150 companies per country, the study of Prisma and GfK Austria examined the economic climate in Austria and the countries of Southeast Europe. It estimates the overall current and future situation featuring the planned export and investment activities. The economic climate is measured on a scale from 0 to 100, the higher the value the more positive the economic climate. The study was conducted in January 2016. The target group were small and medium-sized enterprises and corporations that work on a business to business basis.

     source: APA, WirtschaftsBlatt, Print-Ausgabe, 2016-05-18

    Local elections in the UK: An Indicator for UK referendum on EU membership

    In the UK local and regional elections on 5 May 2016 the two major parties suffered losses. The election serves as an indicator for the UK referendum on EU membership next month.

    The Scottish National Party SNP has won most seats in the ScottishParliament, but has lost its overall majority. The nationalists succeeded 63 of 129 seats – six seats less than in the last election. The leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon had already hailed a “historic” victory since the SNP won the third election in a row. Previously, the nationalists governed with an absolute majority (69 seats) but will now need the support of a smaller party – most likely the Green Party. The Scottish Conservative Party came in second with 31 seats – a major achievement for a party that has long been unpopular in Scotland. The Scottish Labour Party lost many votes and became only third strongest force. In March, the SNP has announced plans for another referendum on Scotland’s membership in the UK after the referendum on UK´s EU membership on 23 June 2016.
     
    The Labour Party remains the strongest party in Wales but faces the significant rise of the UKIP party (UK Independence Party). The anti-EU party of Nigel Farage has won five seats in the Welsh regional parliament. The UKIP fights for a withdrawal from the EU, whereas the leader of the Labour Party Jeremey Corbyn is in favour of remaining in the EU.
     
    In Northern Ireland, the two major Irish Republican parties Sinn Fein and the SDLP suffered losses, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the largest party in Northern Ireland, won most of the votes. The Green Party of Northern Ireland won a second mandate and the left-wing Socialist People Before ProfitAlliance has gained two seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly for the first time. However, the distribution of seats remains broadly unchanged.

    First Muslim Mayor in London
    With approximately 44 percent of the votes Labour candidate Sadiq Khan was almost ten percent ahead of conservative rival Tory Zac Goldsmith in the mayoral election in London. The labour party takes over the British capital after eight years. Khan became thus the first Muslim mayor of a western capital.
    Khan, a former human rights lawyer and son of a bus driver from Pakistan, describes himself as “British Muslim who takes the fight against extremists.” Khan promised to be “a mayor for all Londoners”. “I ask the people urgently to vote for hope over fear,” he said. London has 8.6 million inhabitants of which more than a million are Muslims.
     
    “Super Thursday”, as the media named the Election Day, is considered the first test for the labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who took over the Labour presidency in late summer last year. Compared to the regional and local elections in the years 2011 and 2012 the labour party must accept losses. But compared to the disastrous outcome of the national election in 2015, the Labour Party has won back some votes. The Tories have also lost some votes compared to the national elections last year. In general, the Labour Party did better than expected. They even defended some of their few strongholds in the conservative dominated south of the UK. 40 million Britons were called on 5 May to elect their regional and local parliaments.

    Sources:
    faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/kommunalwahl-in-grossbritannien-rechtspopulisten-erzielen-wahlerfolg-in-wales-14218188.html
    zeit.de/politik/ausland/2016-05/grossbritannien-kommunalwahl-labour-partei-jeremy-corbyn-verluste

    zuerst.de/2016/05/08/kommunalwahlen-in-grossbritannien-ukip-und-schottische-nationalpartei-gewinnen/
    photos: 
    salzburg.com/
    arynews.tv/en/britain-awaits-results-of-super-thursday-votes/

    Local elections in Serbia: Serbian ruling party wins majority

    Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić and his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) have achieved the majority of votes in the local elections and even in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, which traditionally is a stronghold of the opposition Democratic Party.
     
    The right-wing SNS won 44.5 percent of votes in the elections for the Regional Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina on 24 April 2016. The Democratic Party (DS), which was in charge previously, only got 7.24 percent. The socialist PLC JS coalition won 8.85 percent, while the Nationalist Party SRS got 7.66 percent of the votes. The League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV) won 6.43 percent and the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM) achieved 4.87 percent. At the same time early parliamentary elections were held in Serbia. The overall turnout was 56.40 percent.
    With 63 of 120 seats the SNS won 50 seats more than in the last elections 2012 and outrun the Democratic Party, which traditionally is the strongest party in the Vojvodina. The Democratic Party lost 48 seats. The SNS is planning a coalition with the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM). The SVM represents the largest ethnic minority in the Vojvodina.
     
    The remarkable victory of the SNS is due to the successful economic reforms and the accession negotiations with the EU. Furthermore, renaming the party’s list played a role. Vučić had his own name put on all electoral lists (list “Aleksandar Vučić – Serbia wins”) instead of the name of his party SNS and have thus reached the preference of Serbs to vote for leaders, instead of parties.
    The Autonomous Province of Vojvodina is an autonomous province in Serbia, a northern part of the country in the Pannonian Plain. Novi Sad is the administrative center of the Vojvodina and the second largest city in Serbia. The AP Vojvodina has a population of around 2 million people with more than 26 ethnic groups and six official languages.
     
    The SNS has also reached the majority of votes in the remaining municipalities and cities, like Smederevska Palanka (central Serbia), Indjija and Apatin in Vojvodina, previously ruled by the Democrats. The SNS also won 14 of 17 municipalities in Belgrade, except Vracar, Stari Grad and New Belgrade, which go to the Democratic Party. Despite a strong campaign the SNS did not succeed a majority in Jagodina (central Serbia), Surdulica and Bosilegrad (in the southeast of Serbia) or Cajetina (southwest Serbia), where the local politicians of other parties have gained the majority again.
     
    In Vranje (Southern Serbia), the elections will be repeated in two polling stations after bribes have been reported. In Nis, in southern central Serbia, elections will be repeated in 20 polling stations as more ballots were casted than voters registered.
     
    Source: www.balkaninsight.com
    Karte:http://www.uni-regensburg.de/Fakultaeten/PKGG/Geschichte/geschichte-suedost-osteuropa/studium/exkursionen/vojvodina/projekt.html

    New member of the IRE network: The Regional Association Pongau joins the IRE

     
    The Regional Association Pongau has joined the IRE network and is represented by its Chairman Dr. Peter Brandauer, the Mayor of Werfenweng.
    The Regional Association Pongau is an amalgamation of all 25 Pongau communities, cities and a service facility with a broad field of functions for its member communities, the tourism organizations, business people and its citizens. The Regional Association Pongau owns the mobility center Pongau GmbH (“mobilito”) and supports the Europe Direct Information Centre “EDIC Southern Salzburg – Pongau”.
    The focus lies on promotion consulting, regional planning and regional development, the mobilization and development of commercial sites and the organization and development of public transportation. Furthermore, an information and cooperation center for regional projects and regional diversity handles regional concerns.
     
    About 80,000 people make their living in the 25 municipalities of the district “St. Johann im Pongau”. Pongau is also a region with enormous high recreational value. With around 8.5 million overnight stays and 71,000 guest beds it is the most important tourist destination in Austria. During winter the region of Pongau has already positioned itself as one of the top destinations in Europe.
    Pongau is Austria’s only region that has a nationwide active mobility center (service center for tourist mobility management).
     
    We look forward to the cooperation with the regional association Pongau and hope for a good and close collaboration.
     
    More information about the Regional Association:
    http://www.pongau.org/home.html

    25 May 2016: Catalonia‘s way in Europe

    Invitation 

     Catalonia‘s Way in Europe

    Panel discussion

    (in German language)

    Wednesday, 25 May 2016, 19:00 hrs

    Internationale Salzburg Association (ISA)

    Palais Kuenburg-Langenhof

    Sigmund-Haffnergasse 16, 5020 Salzburg, Austria

     

    Opening address and moderation

    Univ. Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger

    IRE-Chairman and Member of the Committee of the Regions, Brussels, EU

     

     

    Panelists:

    Jordi Solé, Secretary for Foreign and European Union Affairs, Government of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain

    Adam Casals, Envoy and Head of the Delegation of the Catalan Government in Vienna, Austria

    Krystyna Schreiber, German Author of books and publications on Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain 

    Dr Kai-Olaf Lang, Senior Fellow, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Berlin, Germany

    Programme 

    Registration until 23 May 2016:

     martina.balazic@institut-ire.eu       

    Tel: 0662 84 32 88 – 0

    Mayor of Ljubljana welcomes IRE initiative “Green City” conference

    IRE delegation visits Capital of Slovenia:

    The mayor of Ljubljana Zoran Janković and the Deputy Mayor Tjasa Ficko agreed with IRE chairman Franz Schausberger and IRE Secretary General Joachim Fritz to conduct a conference on “Green Cities” in Ljubljana. The capital of Slovenia, which is a member of the IRE network since last year, has been named “European Green Capital 2016”. Ljubljana has been redesigned according to the sustainability principle and has excellently preserved green areas, even in the city center. The main goal of the conference is to share experiences and to encourage other cities to get involved. There is no better place to hold a conference than Ljubljana, which has done a lot in recent years to become a sustainable city. The development of the city is clearly visible, said Schausberger in his conversation with Mayor Zoran Janković and Deputy Mayor Tjasa Ficko on 25 April 2016.
     
    The IRE continues its conference series “Smart Cities” in Ljubljana in cooperation with the city of Ljubljana on 10 November 2016. Similar conferences were organized in the past four years in Tübingen (Germany), Vienna (A), Wroclaw (PL) and Trieste (IT).

    In most European cities and towns the urban infrastructure cannot keep up with the rising population, the increasing number of private cars and the enhanced mobility demand. The question of how to enhance mobility while at the same time reducing congestion, accidents and pollutions is a challenge to all major European cities and towns.  The aim of this event is to analyze the current traffic situation in Europe, the problems and perspectives, best practice examples, innovative traffic programmes and technological solutions as well as creating impulses for new activities, cooperation and projects.
     
    For more information contact:
    Martina.Balazic@institut-ire.eu

    Slovenian President joins the IRE Board of Patrons

    Franz Schausberger visited Borut Pahor in Ljubljana:

    The President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor has joined the IRE “Board of Patrons” and signed the certificate on the occasion of a visit of IRE-President Franz Schausberger to Ljubljana on April 25, 2016.
    The Slovenian President, therefore, supports the Institute of the Regions of Europe, a European, supra-regional, non-partisan and independent institution for all European regions and municipalities inside and outside of the EU, with the aim to strengthen the political and the economic position of the regions and municipalities in Europe. Borut Pahor stated that the IRE’s activity address the idea of a “Europe of the Regions” based on the principle of Subsidiarity, which is one of the supporting pillars of the European Union as defined in the Lisbon Treaty. 
     
    IRE-President Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger with the President of Slovenia Borut Pahor
    The regionalization of Slovenia, which was operated by President Pahor during his time as prime minister in 2008, was the core of the conversation. Slovenia is one of the most centralized countries in Europe with no regional structure and weak municipalities, which are subject to the central government.
    In a referendum in 2008, a clear majority of the population voted in favour of regionalization but the attempt failed because the issue of number of regions was disputed.
    The current government has not touched this issue yet. President Pahor, however, is convinced that regionalization will regain relevance in Slovenia. He thanked the IRE for sharing its expertise.
     
    Furthermore, President Pahor was extremely interested in the current events regarding the presidential election in Austria and was concerned about the increase of right-wing populism in Europe and, consequently, the weakening of the European Union. The parties must tackle popular topics that are of concern for the people, for which the right-wing populists only offer simple and radical answers.

    Bosnia and Herzegovina´s way to the EU has begun

    IRE Expert Conference and Café d´Europe Régional in Sarajevo, BiH:

    The EU has been questioned a lot lately. Both, the economic and the refugee crisis have shown that the European project is not yet a perfect one. Some long-time Member States even think about leaving the Union. Nevertheless, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has officially applied for EU membership on 15 February 2016.
     
    “We all welcome the European aspirations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially after the adoption of the reform agenda and the associated action plan. Now Bosnia and Herzegovina need to provide concrete results,” said IRE Chairman Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger at the opening session of the conference at the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH in Sarajevo.
     
    The IRE has organized an expert conference on the topic “Bosnia and Herzegovinas way to the EU and the impact on regional and local authorities” on 15 April 2016 in cooperation with Canton Sarajevo, the Central European Initiative, the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation and other international partners. International experts from eight European countries and high-level speakers from business and politics attended this conference. The aim of the conference was to raise awareness of topics such as rights, opportunities and benefits for the citizens and their region from the (future) EU membership as well as the impact of the EU membership on the local and regional authorities.
     
    Regional assemblies in the EU candidate countries need to deal with the implementation of EU legislation at an early stage and provide information to its citizens. Representatives from Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, Romania and Serbia presented their approaches and European projects and concluded that 70% of the EU acquis is to be implemented at subnational level.
     
    “It is absolutely necessary for the integration process to strengthen the country’s capacity and to respond with one voice on EU matters,” said Franz Schausberger on. The regional structure of BiH with its two entities and the Special Administrative Region Brčko is very complex and the financial autonomy at the local level is still weak. It is therefore important to involve all regional and local authorities in the EU process from the very start.

                 
    From left to right: Elvis Kondzic, Advisor to the Council of Ministers BiH, Mirko Šarović, Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations BiH, IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger, Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Dragan Mektic, Minister of Security, and Austria’s Ambassador to BiH Martin Pammer

    Bosnias Minister of Security Dragan Mektic stated that BiH takes the EU integration process seriously and will implement all preconditions as quickly as possible to take advantage of the economic benefits. Therefore, all levels of governments must work together on the issue of internal security. This also includes the fight against organized crime and against corruption. Internal security will bring investors into the country contributing to the economic development. The 2016 is a crucial year, emphasized Mirko Šarović, Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, because after BiH´s submission of the EU membership application it must actively continue to pursue the European path. And this is done especially at regional and local level, where public life takes place.
     
    In the last one and a half years Bosnia has made notable development, reported the EU Special Representative and Head of the EU Delegation in BiH Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark. The reform agenda last year and the local elections in October 2016 are the best chance to convince the citizens of the EU and the related positive development of Bosnia. The predominant ethnic politics should not stand in the way. People are looking for work and a better education in the country not abroad. There are already more than 200 Austrian companies in the country that are looking for skilled workers. Austria is thus the largest foreign investor in BiH, reported the Austrian commercial attaché in Sarajevo Sigmund Nemeti. Nevertheless, sometimes clear conditions for investors are missing in order for them to plan their business and weigh opportunities and risks.
     
    Austria’s ambassador to BiH Martin Pammer expressed his joy about an Austrian Institute which is strongly involved in accompanying BiH on its way to the EU. BiH and its regions can only benefit from the network in Europe.
     
    After the expert conferences in Dresden (D), Vukovar (HR) and Brcko (BiH) in 2013 and 2014, the event series “Local Assemblies and Parliaments” was now successfully continued in Sarajevo.
     
    Café d´Europe Régional 
    In the afternoon the Café d’Europe Régional on “BiH’s rocky way to the EU” took place in the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Sarajevo. The relaxed atmosphere of the cafeteria contributed to an open discussion with students on EU topics such as the integration process and the participation of civil society in decision making. Top-class representatives, leaders and thinkers from politics, diplomacy and economy as well as an interested audience have discussed several ideas.
     
    We must give young people a clear perspective to the EU, suggested IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger welcoming more than 60 students, who spoke English as German fluently. The exchange between the experts and the students was very intense and showed both, excitement and reservation towards the EU accession of Bosnia.

    The EU is not a finished project but a process that BiH can contribute to, because it can act as a bridge between religions, said Sigmund Nemeti, Austrian commercial attaché in Sarajevo.
    Prof. Daniela Drobná from the Union of Towns and Municipalities in Slovakia stressed that EU programs such as Erasmus have contributed greatly to the academic concept and its coherence within the member states. The recognition of qualifications boosts mobility of workers within the EU and BiH will also profit from it.
     
    Other high-profile speakers at the podium were the Austrian Ambassador Martin Pammer and CEO of Komercijalna Banka from Belgrade Alexander Picker.

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