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    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.”

    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?
    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.
    And did Europe managed to cope with the refugee crisis?
    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.
    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?
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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?
    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.
    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?
    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.

    29 March 2017: Banja Luka – How to become a Green City

    Most Europeans live in urban areas, where environmental issues such as air quality, waste management or traffic congestion are increasingly becoming challenges to the city’s infrastructure. Some of the key elements to a coherent and green urban framework are green spaces, attracting innovative and green businesses, building a strong public transportation system and using renewable resources. Becoming a green city is a strong commitment which needs to be continuously pursued in the future involving citizens along the way. This conference will provide an analysis of the current traffic situation in European cities and focus on impulses to launch policies and strategies for cities that are at the beginning of the process.  


    6th IRE Green Mobility Conference:

    Banja Luka – How to become a Green City

    Sustainable and Interconnected Cities in Europe 

    on Wednesday, 29th March 2017

    in the National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska,

    2 Vuk Karadžić Street Banja Luka, BiH

    from 09:00 hrs to 16:00 hrs

    Conference languages: German, English, Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian 





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

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


    Conference Partners 

             Bildergebnis für national assembly republika srpska        Image      Logo BMEIA

    Bildergebnis für logo wko aussenwirtschaft    Bildergebnis für elin motoren   Bildergebnis für canon

        Bildergebnis für konrad adenauer stiftung Bildergebnis für mtel bosna


    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:

    2 March 2017: Panel discussion ” Centralism means less democracy – by the example Catalonia”


    Das Institut der Regionen Europas (IRE) veranstaltet gemeinsam mit der Vertretung der katalanischen Regionalregierung in Wien, dem Akademikerbund Niederösterreich, dem Verein der Katalanen in Österreich  und der ÖH IMC Krems eine


    (in deutscher Sprache) zum Thema

    „Zentralismus bedeutet weniger Demokratie -

    am Beispiel Kataloniens“


    Donnerstag, 2. März 2017, 17:00 Uhr, an der IMC Fachhochschule Krems

    Am Campus Trakt G, 3500 Krems an der Donau


    Moderation:   LAbg. Mag. Lukas Mandl, Vorsitzender Europa-Ausschuss im NÖ Landtag, St. Pölten, Österreich

    Einleitung:      Univ. Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger, IRE-Vorstand, Mitglied im Ausschuss der Regionen der EU, Salzburg, Österreich

    Grussworte:    Marina Falcó, Generaldirektorin für auswärtige Angelegenheiten, Generalitat de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spanien (in englischer Sprache)   


    Es diskutieren:

    Adam Casals, Gesandter, Leiter der Vertretung der Regierung von Katalonien in Österreich

    Univ. Prof. Dr. Michael Geistlinger, Fachbereich Öffentliches Recht, Völker- und Europarecht, Universität Salzburg 

    Univ. Prof. Dr. Jordi Jaria Manzano, Universitätsprofessor der Universität Rovira i Virgili de Tarragona, Spanien                            


    Im Anschluss laden wir zu einem Imbiss.

    um Anmeldung wird gebeten: bzw. +43 (0) 662 84 32 88-0.

    24-26 Sept 2017: Salzburg Summit – „Next Generation“ Attractive Regions and Cities for Future Generations

    Salzburg Summit

    13th Conference of European Regions and Cities 

    24 – 26 September 2017, Salzburg Congress

     „Next Generation“

    Attractive Regions and Cities Future Generations

     Under the Honorary Patronage of Alexander van der Bellen,

    President of the Republic of Austria 


    Topics include:  

    • „The Next Generation of New EU Member States“
    • “How to keep Rural Areas attractive for Future Generations“
    • „The Next Generation of Renewable Energy“
    • „ Private Education Institutions – a Chance for the Next Generation“
    • „Start-ups in den Regionen – the Future for the Young Generation“


    Details will follow soon. 

    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.

    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:

    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.