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    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:

    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.

    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,
    tel.: +386 1 788 87 59.
    More information about us:

    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:

    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)                           
    21 November 5 Regions Regional Councils
      98 Municipalities Municipal Councils
    26 March Saarland Landtag
    7 May Schleswig-Holstein Landtag
    14 May North Rhine – Westphalia Landtag
    9 April 297 Municipalities Municipal Councils
    3 June 9 Cities, 110 Municipalities Municipal Councils
    8 Oktober Cities and Municipalities Municipal Councils
    March 90 Municipalities Municipal Councils
    29 January Lower Austria Municipal Council (Waidhofen/Ybbs)
    5 February Steiermark Municipal Council Graz
    October Burgenland Municipal Representations
        Direct Election of the Mayor
    October Lower Austria  Municipal Council Krems       
    October 308 Municipalities Municipal Councils
    United Kingdom 
    Great Britain
    4 May England 35 Councils
      England 9 Direct Elections of Mayor
      Scotland   All 32 Councils
      Wales All 22 Councils

    (no guarantee of completeness)

    Chronologically Listed

    Date Institution(s) Region Country
    29 January Municipal Council Waidhofen/Ybbs,
    Lower Austria
    5 February Municipal Council Graz Steiermark Austria
    26.March Landtag Saarland Germany
    March Municipal Councils 90 Municipalities Macedonia
    9.April Municipal Councils in 279 Municipalities Finland
    4 May 35 Councils England United Kingdom
      9 Direct Elections of Mayor England United Kingdom
      All 32 Councils Scotland United Kingdom
      All 22 Councils Wales United Kingdom
    7 May Landtag Schleswig-Holstein Germany
    14 May Landtag North Rhine – Westphalia Germany
    3 June Municipal Councils 9 Cities, 110 Municipalities Latvia
    8 October Municipal Councils Cities and Municipalities Luxembourg
    October Municipal Representations Burgenland Austria
      Direct Election of the Mayor     
    October Municipal Council Krems, Lower Austria  Austria
    October Municipal Councils 308 Municipalities Portugal
    21 November  Regional Councils 5 Regions Denmark
      Municipal Councils 98 Municipalities Denmark

    (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.

    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.

    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 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: