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    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:,, and

    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: and


    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


    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:

    Source: and  

    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
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