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    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:

    Balancing Sustainability and Affordability in Regional Housing

    IRE Expert Conference on Sustainable and Affordable Housing:


    The population worldwide is growing and Austria expects one million more inhabitants by 2050. The reason is not only the slight increase in birth rates but also migration.  Housing is a fundamental right guaranteeing home to every person. Hence, the housing policy needs to be adapted to the fast changing society structure with more single households, nursing facilities for elderly people and higher equipment standards.

     “All these developments cause challenges for the economy and politics. Regions and cities are key stakeholders in the field of housing and need to set up a variety of modern, flexible, sustainable and affordable housing models for the future”, said IRE-chairman Franz Schausberger at the opening of the IRE expert conference.

    Many families decide to live in the suburban areas which makes the availability and affordability of the land scarce and expensive, explained Johannes Ebner, mayor of Hallwang a town near Salzburg. Furthermore, a good public transportation system and a broadband internet access are two important factors for families who move to the rural areas. The challenge is to offer a quiet and green environment with flawless infrastructure. 

    “Many people commute to the city centers every day, which makes subsidized housing and a sustainable mobility plan go hand in hand”, agreed Hans Mayr, Salzburg state minister for infrastructure and housing. The Region of Salzburg has lately worked intensively on a new housing reform to guarantee liquidity for housing subsidies. The reform will also include new housing designs such as starter apartments for young people with small income. The state government tries to implement the new concept without allowing for new debt.


    Housing subsidies is not common in all European countries, explained Susanne Bauer, chairwoman of the Eurocities Working Group Housing.  The average construction cost has increased by 46% in the past 10 years to over 2,000 Euros per square meter which makes subsidies so important. Moreover, subsidies not only benefit the tenant but also secure jobs and promote the construction industry. Vienna has developed a new housing policy offering small-scale units which are compact, cost-effective and flexible. Today, one third of all subsidized apartments in Vienna are “smart”. The Austrian housing system is well-structured which dates back to the 1980s, when Austria did not follow the trend to sell real estate´s on the free market but restructured and extended the promotion of housing and housing subsidies, explained Wolfgang Amann, Director of the Institute for Real Estate, Construction and Housing in Vienna. The federal government has achieved to establish a system with great benefits for today´s circumstances.


    However, offering non-profit housing and investing in modern and efficient construction measures while the at the same time considering the high land prices is an additional challenge for the housing business in Salzburg, said Christian Wintersteller, chairman of the Public Housing Association in Salzburg. The land prices in Salzburg have risen by 123% in the period from 2001 to 2011. Martin Clemens Weber from the Erste Bank AG, added that an efficient financial system for housing is significant and financial support is offered at European level. The European Investment Bank, for example, provides for long-term funds with fixed interest rates.


    The Austrian company GAP solution GmbH wants to achieve a balance between sustainability and affordability for housing construction. Johann Aschauer, managing director of GAP solution GmbH, presented the project “The House” which supplies the household with clean energy not using fossil fuels. It consists of a sustainable, ecological wood construction and a respiratory active facade with a honeycomb technology. “The house” has a positive energy balance which is generated from water heating, heat recovery and solar energy. Approximately 2000 houses have been modernized or newly built with the solar honeycomb technology.


    Affordability is the trademark of NEUE HEIMAT TIROL. Managing director Klaus Lugger condemns the high prices for rent and demands a 20%-limit for rent according to the personal income of the tenant. NEUE HEIMAT TIROL is one of the leading property developers and property management companies in Western Austria. As a consultant and problem solver in residential construction projects, NEUE HEIMAT TIROL offers its services to all Tyrolean municipalities and institutions. High value is placed on cost-oriented architecture, high living quality and increased environmental consciousness.

    Another best-practice example is the KlimaHaus Agency Bolzano, a public institution of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano for the energetic certification of buildings. To date, it has certified almost 7,000 buildings in Italy alone. The KlimaHaus agency is committed to the training and further education of all actors involved in construction. It promotes initiatives to raise awareness among the population on energy efficiency, sustainability and climate change. Energy efficiency requires a combination of several actors: builders, planners, building contractors and building materials traders, as well as research, training and development, politics, administration and service. “This is the only way we can save energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the building sector”, explained Stefan Walder, from the Autonomous Province of Bolzano. The advantages of KlimaHaus speak for themselves: greatly reduced heating costs, healthy and comfortable living while at the same time increasing the value of the property.

    “Energy Efficiency plays a crucial role, also in the housing business”, said Josef Schwaiger, Salzburg state minister for energy. A constant development of energy efficient methods will improve sustainable living. Furthermore, less land is being built on in Salzburg, which already shows the positive effects of the coherent land and housing policy that the regional government is currently optimizing. Housing policy is in constant development in which a variety of aspects need to be considered: changing society structures, efficient technology, affordability and many actors who have their part in this process.

    For more pictures, click here.

    10 November 2016: Green Mobility – Green Cities, Ljubljana (Slovenia)

    Bildergebnis für wappen ljubljana

    Bildergebnis für logo institut regionen europas

    Bildergebnis für ljubljana european green capital

    5th IRE Expert Conference

    Master Mobility Plan for Green Cities


    Sustainable and Interconnected Cities in Europe

    on 10th November 2016

    Castel of Ljubljana

    Ljubljanski Grad, Grajska planota 1

    1001 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    From 9:00 – 16:00 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. A special focus will be the Master Mobility Plan of Regions and Cities in Europe.  

    Previous Smart cities conferences of the IRE took place in:

    • 15 November 2012, Tübingen, Germany
    • 28 June 2013, Vienna, Austria
    • 14 March 2014, Wroclaw, Poland
    • 20 March 2015, Trieste, Italy




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

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


    In cooperation with: 

    Bildergebnis für wko aussenwirtschaft logo                  Bildergebnis für european union flag       Bildergebnis für city of vienna international logo

    Skupnost občin Slovenije            Bildergebnis für ZDRUŽENJE MESTNIH OBČIN SLOVENIJE           Bildergebnis für NAVYA logo

    Bildergebnis für tina vienna


    “European Reform Agenda” for Kosovo in final phase

    Franz Schausberger met with the Prime Minister of Kosovo Isa Mustafa on 26 October 2016 in Pristina:

    The government of Kosovo together with the EU Commissions Directorate-General for Enlargement is currently working on the lat details of a “European Reform agenda” for the country, said Prime Minister Isa Mustafa at a meeting with Franz Schausberger, the chairman of the working group Western Balkans of the European Committee of the Regions. He sincerely hopes that the work will be completed in time so that the reform agenda can be presented to the public in mid-November together with Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

    According to the Prime Minister visa liberalization is particularly important for his country, which already fulfills 93 out of 95 benchmarks. The two open points are the ratification of the agreement on the border with Montenegro and effective measures against organized crime and corruption. The first point fails in the Kosovarian Parliament because there is no two-thirds majority for ratification.

    Franz Schausberger underlined the need for reforms in the area of local self-administration. Mustafa announced a reform law for more financial independence of municipalities and cities. A revision of the right to vote is underway and attempts are being made to reach an agreement with the opposition for the local elections in 2017.

    from left: Lutfi Haziri, Mayor of Gjilan, Franz Schausberger, Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, Arban Abrashi, Minister for  Labour and Social Affairs

    Franz Schausberger met Kosovos Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj


    The 19th Meeting of the Working Group Western Balkans was held on 25 October in Gjilan, Kosovo, at the invitation of the Gjilan Municipality. In the first session of the meeting, which was attended by Kosovo’s Minister of European Integration Ramadan Ilazi, the Deputy Minister for Local Self-Government Bajram Gecaj and by EU representatives, an assessment of recent developments in Kosovo’s European integration process was made; the second session focused mainly on the “Connectivity Agenda” for Western Balkans, launched in the framework of the “Berlin Process”.
    The representatives of Kosovo mentioned the importance of EU visa liberalization for their citizens. However, a number of important preconditions need to be met by Kosovo. A particularly big problem is the high youth unemployment and the resulting migration of thousands of young people from Kosovo to the EU.
    Prior to this conference, Franz Schausberger was received by Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj for a meeting in the ministry. Schausberger stated that during the EU integration process decentralization and the transfer of further competences to the regions and cities is just as important as the implementation of other EU criteria. Hoxhaj agreed and promised a quick implementation of the requirements. Kosovo  wants to enter the status of EU candidate country as soon as possible and continue the negotiations even more intensively.



    Danube Business Forum has an important function for the successful development of the Danube area


    The Danube Business Forum took place for the fifth time in Novi Sad, Serbia, on the 24-26 October 2016.
    The objective of the Danube Business Forum is to provide a platform for institutional and corporate leaders to exchange views on emerging regional issues related to the EU Danube Strategy, utilize resources in the fields of energy, transport, agribusiness and IT, and discuss mutual investment opportunities. The Forum aims to encourage partnerships between companies, cities and regions to build prosperity and competitiveness of the Danube region.
    On this occasion, IRE President Franz Schausberger, in his function as chairman of the CoR Working group Western Balkans, was invited to hold a speech at the Forum. Schausberger pointed out that the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, whose capital is Novi Sad, is already functioning as a “small Europe within Europe” because of its ethnic and religious diversity. He congratulated Novi Sad on the nomination of European Capital of Culture in 2021 and noted that this is another important step in the overall development of Serbia towards the EU.
    The Danube region is a natural spatial, economic and cultural environment, and since 2010 it is covered by the EU Strategy for the Danube Region. This area extends from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, and includes 14 countries and over 215 million inhabitants. The countries in the Danube area are: Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Moldova and Ukraine.

    Franz Schausberger appointed Special Advisor for the European Commission

    On 12 October 2016 the chairman of the IRE Franz Schausberger got appointed Special Advisor of the European Commission for EU enlargement countries, in particular the Western Balkans and the Ukraine. This position is unpaid and Schausberger is assigned to the Department of European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations with Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

    Schausberger will focus on decentralization and regionalization in the Western Balkans and the Ukraine. The involvement of regions and local authorities of the enlargement countries in the EU accession process is of special concern for the European Commission.

    The strengthening of the Ukrainian regions is being debated for quite some time now, but the conflict between Kiev and the eastern Ukrainian regions blocks any further progress. Schausberger will contribute to the negotiations.