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Procedure : 2004/2257(INI)
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Document selected : A6-0311/2005

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PV 01/12/2005 - 6.3

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Thursday, 1 December 2005 - Brussels

European Parliament resolution on the role of "Euroregions" in the development of regional policy (2004/2257(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 87(3) of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Article 158 of the EC Treaty,

   having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down general provisions establishing a European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (COM(2004)0628),

–   having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Regional Development Fund (COM(2004)0495),

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council regulation laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund (COM(2004)0492),

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council Regulation establishing a Cohesion Fund (COM(2004)0494),

–   having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European grouping of cross-border cooperation (EGCC) (COM(2004)0496),

–   having regard to the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities of the Council of Europe (Madrid, 21 May 1980) and its Additional Protocols, and to the European Charter of Local Self-Government of the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, 15 October 1985),

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development (A6-0311/2005),

A.  Whereas the enlargement of the European Union to 25 Member States on 1 May 2004 increased the disparities between European regions and forthcoming enlargements may further increase those disparities; whereas enlargement also led to a substantial increase in the number of border regions; whereas it should be noted that Euroregions have made a decisive contribution towards surpassing frontiers in Europe, building good, neighbourly relations, bringing people together on both sides of borders and breaking down prejudices, in particular through cooperation at local and regional level across national borders,

B.  Whereas regional disparities in the enlarged union need to be reduced and need to be addressed with an effective cohesion policy aimed at harmonious development within the EU,

C.  Whereas one requirement of an effective cohesion policy and of European integration is to ensure the sustainable development of cross-border co-operation and finally to overcome the difficulties existing to date in funding joint projects that benefit equally local authorities and regions on either side of a border,

D.  Whereas Euroregions and similar structures are important instruments of cross-border co-operation that nonetheless have to be further developed and improved and whereas they should have certain legal status,

E.  Whereas the ultimate aim of Euroregions is to promote cross-border co-operation between border regions, local entities, regional authorities, social partners and all other actors, not necessarily Member States of the EU, on matters such as culture, education, tourism, economic issues and any other aspect of daily life,

F.  Whereas the Association of European Border Regions has presented several reports on the status of cross-border co-operation in Europe and has prepared studies on a cross-border legal instrument on decentralised cooperation of the Commission and the Committee of the Regions,

1.  Considers that cross-border cooperation is of fundamental importance to European cohesion and integration and must therefore be given wide support;

2.  Calls on Member States to promote the use of Euroregions as one of the tools of cross-border co-operation;

3.  Notes that a Euroregion or similar structure fulfils important cross-border tasks, providing, for example:

   - an information and service point for citizens, institutions and regional and local authorities;
   - a focal point for common values, aims and strategies;
   - a driving force for solving cross-border problems;
   - a mouthpiece in all cross-border questions;

4.  Notes that Euroregions are a turn table for all cross-border relationships, contacts, knowledge transfers and operational programmes and projects and that they need certain legal status to be able to perform their tasks;

5.  Stresses that cross-border cooperation provides a suitable approach to solving daily problems on both sides of the border, especially in economic, social, cultural and environmental fields;

6.  Stresses that cross-border cooperation makes a considerable contribution to the implementation of the Lisbon strategy through:

   - joint innovation and research;
   - research and development (R&D) networks across borders;
   - the exchange of best practice and experience;

7.  Notes that Euroregions enhance proximity ties through local best-practice exchange projects; therefore considers it particularly important that the microproject form of assistance, as provided for in the Commission's Communication INTERREG III(1), currently in effect, be maintained under the Structural Funds;

8.  Notes the legislative work in progress on a European grouping of cross-border cooperation (EGCC), the aim of which is to simplify cross-border cooperation instruments (facilitating their actions, rationalising procedures and reducing operating costs), thus providing a platform for Euroregions to develop;

9.  Underlines the need to give priority to eliminating disparities between regions in the new Member States and in the old Member States;

10.  Stresses the need to extend the concept of Euroregions and similar structures, even though they do not necessarily have the legal competencies to include multiple facets of co-operation; suggests as possible fields of mutual interest, promoting culture, education, tourism and economic issues as well as, where applicable, fighting organised crime, drug trafficking and fraud in partnership with relevant national institutions;

11.  Points to the need for integration between projects programmed in countries which share borders;

12.  Welcomes the Commission's efforts to simplify instruments of cross-border co-operation;

13.  Calls for Euroregions and similar structures as proposed in the legal framework of the EGCC to be enabled to develop, implement and manage cross-border programmes in the EU as well as programmes in line with the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument and the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) as from the year 2007 onwards in partnership with national institutions;

14.  Stresses the importance of cross-border co-operation and Euroregions for Member States with natural handicaps, including small island states;

15.  Stresses the need to support cross-border co-operation and the establishment of Euroregions, including regions in the sensitive area of the Middle East, in an effort to promote friendly relations, stability, security and economic interests in terms of mutual respect and benefit;

16.  Draws attention to paragraph 1(xxvii) of its resolution on the proposal for a Council Regulation establishing a Cohesion Fund(2) adopted on 6 July 2005, and calls on the Commission to make provision for a premium system along the same lines, taking the form of a 'Community quality and effectiveness reserve' specifically targeting incentives for measures having cross-border effects or potentially dovetailing with existing infrastructure in Euroregions;

17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission.

(1) Communication from the Commission to the Member States of 2 September 2004 laying down guidelines for a Community initiative concerning trans-European cooperation intended to encourage harmonious and balanced development of the European territory - INTERREG III (OJ C 226, 10.9.2004, p. 2)
(2) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2005)0278.

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