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    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

    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:, and

    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

    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:,, and

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