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    25 May 2016: Catalonia‘s way in Europe


     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




    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


    Registration until 23 May 2016:       

    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:

    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.

    10 November 2016 – Green Mobility – Green Cities

    IRE Expert Conference

    Green Mobility – Green Cities

    Sustainable and Interconnected Cities in Europe

    on 10th November 2016

    Castel of Ljubljana

    Ljubljanski Grad, Grajska planota 1

    1001 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    From 9:30 – 15:00 hrs

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



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

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

    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.

    Meeting with the Prime Minister of Canton Sarajevo

    Regional representatives from Bosnia are already
    active in Brussels

    The IRE delegation with Chairman Franz Schausberger was welcomed in Sarajevo by the Prime Minister of the Canton Sarajevo Elmedin Konaković on 14 April 2016 within in the course of the conference “Bosnia and Herzegovina’s road to the EU and the impact on regional and local authorities” which took place the next day.

    “The aim of the conference is to fully integrate the local and regional authorities in the EU accession process,” explained Franz Schausberger and thanked Prime Minister Konaković for his support in organizing the conference. Especially valuable are experiences of countries which have joined the EU just recently, like Croatia, to achieve a successful and quick integration of Bosnia into the EU.

    From left: IRE Advisory Board Member Gerhard Feltl, IRE Chairman Franz Schausberger, Prime Minister Elmedin Konaković and IRE Board of Directors Member Helmut Falschlehner

    It was agreed that political and economic development is reached when local and regional levels are involved in the process because local and regional governments can overcome times of crises faster,  good examples are decentralized countries such as Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

    “All cantons have already representatives who cooperate intensively with the EU to implement the reforms,” said Prime Minister Konaković. He stressed that reforms in the areas of public administration, labor market, public finances, in the economic area and the judicial system as well as the fight against corruption have already begun.
    “We are going into right direction, even if there is no coherent reform agenda in the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We still have to tackle many problems but I believe that our path towards the EU will be successful,” concluded Prime Minister Konaković.
    photo: Angelika Wienerroither (SN)

    Catalonia records highest economic growth in nine years

    News from the IRE Member Catalonia:
    Catalonia records highest economic growth
    in nine years

    A plus of 3.4 percent in 2015 – this trend is due to the high demand of spending in households (by 3.6%) as well as spending of public administrations (by 1.6%). On the other hand, the exports have risen because of the low interest rates and the low oil price. La Generalitat, the Catalan regional government, pointed out that Catalonia has experienced a stronger growth than Spain (3.2%) and the average Euro zone (1.9%). Only four countries in the EU area have experienced a higher growth namely Ireland, Malta, Luxembourg and Slovakia.
    • Measured by economic sectors: Services are at the top with a growth of 3.8%. The number of tourists grew by 3.7%.
    • The industry grew by 2.7% compared to 2014 and has steadily grown in the past three years.
    • For the first time in 7 years the construction sector has grown by 3.5%.
    • The agriculture and forestry declined slightly by 0.9%.
    in %  2014 2015 2016
    GDP 1,5 3,2 2,8
    Private consumption 2,5 3,1 2,8
    Public spending  1,2 2 1,5
    Export 4,2 5,6 5
    Import 8,1 6,1 5,5
    VPI 0,1 -0,2 0,8
    Employment growth. 2,1 3,1 2,8
    source: Katalanische Handelskammer in BarcelonaThis positive development of the economy has a direct impact on the labor market , where 3.5% more people are insured than in the previous year. The increase is due to higher employment in the service sector. Nevertheless, the unemployment rate of 17.7% remains a weak point in Catalonia.
    Moreover, Catalonia stays economically strong despite the independence debate and continues to attract foreign buyers. Foreign investment has reached a value of EUR 4.8 billion last year, which is the best figure since of 2010.

    source: 7.4.2016 von  Mag. Ruth Sackl

    Municipal elections in St. Pölten, Lower Austria

    Municipal elections in St. Pölten, Lower Austria:
    SPÖ expands majority
    The social democratic party SPÖ won 59.0 percent of the votes in the municipal election in St. Pölten, and the conservative ÖVP gained 20.27 percent, which is its worst performance since 1950. The right-wing FPÖ reached 14.70 percent, the Greens received 2.74 percent. The SPÖ gained 2.24 percentage points and the ÖVP lost 5.02 percentage points. The Freedom Party gained 3.99 percentage points whereas the Greens lost 2.10 percentage points.
    The final result of the municipal elections in St. Pölten
    Also, Mayor Matthias Stadler (SPÖ) repeatedly received the majority of preferential votes of 3,703.
    The 42 seats in the council are distributed as follows: SPÖ 26 (in 2011: 25), ÖVP 9 (11), FPÖ 6 (4), Green 1(2). For the first time since 1996 the turnout has risen again from 58.01 to 63.62 percent.
    Distribution of Mandates

    Source: ORF &

    The IRE scientific library grows with every intern

    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 organisational processes.

     from left: Gerard Ribas, IRE-Chairman Prof. Dr. Franz Schausberger, Tsira Zauner,
    Demet Demir, IRE Secretary General Dr. Joachim Fritz
    Last week three IRE interns have presented their papers. Mrs. Tsira Zauner analysed Georgias economic situation and the investment possibilities, Ms. Demet Demir presented the special position of the city of Izmir as the most western-oriented city in Turkey and Mr. Gerard Ribas compared potential investment and cooperation opportunities of the Spanish region Catalunya with regions in the Balkan countries.
    We thank all three for their support and wish them all the very best for the future!

    Cultural Tourism in Lithuania: Relax in Zarasai

    News from the Members: 

    Zarasai is one of the most beautiful towns in the Aukštaitija region. The town is surounded by blue lakes and healthy pine forests. The town, with its rich past, will celebrate its 510th anniversary. Zarasai has an interesting spacial arrangement of the town square and its streets. The value of Zarasais urban development is due to a distinct but regular layout with a radial circular network of streets and the single Sėliai Sąuare, where all radial streets meet. The land of Zarasai attracts tourists with a plenitude of lakes, rivers, hills scattered over like beads and forests which guard tranquillity.

    Zarasai town focuses on wellness, sport and cultural tourism. Therefore, all past and current projects are related to these three priorities. During last year the town government has finished some projects which are important for the region, such as the establishment of a new infrastructure on the Great Island of Zarasas lake. A cableway was installed on the lake, which is 600 meter long. The Public library has opened a new modern extension of the building for art exhibitions, new information, media, „3D cinema“, music, a place to play for children, a reading-room and „coffe club“. There is also terrace on the roof with a view to Zarasaičio lake. Furthermore, in small towns of the Zarasai region squares were reconstructed, sport playing fields and community centers were built.
    In 2008 Zarasai was pronounced the first cultural capital of Lithuania. In the same year, Zarasai was granted the status of a resort area. It is expected that this status will help Zarasai attract investment, will stimulate the development of cultural tourism, active recreation, increase the number of offered services, as well as improve the quality of current offers.
    The city of Zarasai is member of the IRE network since 2010 and continues its membership under the new Mayor Nikolajus Gusevas.

    For more Information: